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Tuesday July 16, 2024

Judge Zeba Chaudhry case: Imran Khan 'shocked' after hearing about change of judge

"PTI chairman was shocked and worried at the change of the judge hearing the Judge Zeba Chaudhry case," says lawyer

By Web Desk
September 21, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File

ATTOCK: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday was shocked after he was informed by his legal team about the change of the judge hearing the Judge Zeba Chaudhry case registered against him.

“The PTI chairman was shocked and worried at the change of the judge hearing the Judge Zeba Chaudhry case,” said one of the PTI chief’s legal counsel Salman Safdar in a media talk outside the Attock jail after meeting his client.

The lawyer said that Judge Malik Aman, who was hearing the case, was expected to issue a verdict soon. He added that the judge should not have been changed at this crucial time.

Salman also said that the PTI chief went to Judge Zeba Chaudhry’s court and apologised to her for the remarks he passed against her in a public gathering.

The PTI chief was booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act for threatening additional sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and senior police officers of the Islamabad Police during a public rally in August last year.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had then started contempt of court proceedings against the former prime minister.

Later on, the high court had removed the terror charges and also pardoned the PTI chief after he had tendered an apology in the contempt case.

But a similar case had been filed against the PTI chief — after the registration of the first information report (FIR) against him — and is still pending before the sessions court.

PTI chief hopeless after not getting bail in cipher case

The PTI chief’s lawyer also said that his client was extremely hopeless after he failed to get bail in the cipher case.

“There has been no violation of the Official Secrets Act,” claimed the lawyer. He added that during their meeting they also briefed the PTI chairman on the suspension of bails in nine cases and also on the nine cases being heard in the IHC.

Last month, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booked PTI chief and his party’s vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly misplacing and misusing the classified document for vested political interests.

Subsequently, both leaders were arrested in connection with the investigation into the case and a special court was established under the Official Secrets Act to try the accused.

The former prime minister has been in Attock Jail after he was arrested following his conviction in the Toshakhana case.

While the IHC had overturned a lower court's decision to jail him, he remains behind bars due to his arrest in the cipher case. The arrest of the PTI chief was made while he was behind bars.

What is the cipher case?

The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — just days before his ouster in April 2022 — brandished a letter, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which mentioned that his government should be removed from power.

He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor mention the name of the nation that had sent it. But a few days later, he named the United States and said that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal.

The cipher was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed's meeting with Lu.

The former prime minister, claiming that he was reading contents from the cipher, said that "all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power".

Then on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a "strong demarche" to the country for its "blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan".

Later, after his removal, Khan's successor Shehbaz Sharif convened another meeting of the NSC, which came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher.

The cipher case against the former premier became serious after his principal secretary Azam Khan stated before a magistrate as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that the former PM had used the US cipher for his "political gains" and to avert a vote of no-confidence against him.

The former bureaucrat, in his confession, said when he provided the ex-premier with the cipher, he was "euphoric" and termed the language a "US blunder". The former prime minister, according to Azam, then said that the cable could be used for "creating a narrative against establishment and opposition".

Azam said the US cipher was used in political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to avoid such acts. He mentioned that the former prime minister also told him that the cipher could be used to divert the public's attention towards "foreign involvement" in the opposition's no-confidence motion.