Former Pakistan foreign minister Mehmood Qureshi's physical remand extended by 3 days in cipher case

Qureshi was arrested on August 19 under Official Secrets Act for violating secrecy of the official cable sent by the Pakistani embassy in the US to the foreign office.
Last Updated : 25 August 2023, 10:38 IST
Last Updated : 25 August 2023, 10:38 IST

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A special court in Pakistan on Friday extended by three days former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's remand in connection with the leakage of a confidential diplomatic cable that was allegedly misused for political purposes by the previous Imran Khan-led government.

Qureshi, 67, a close aide of jailed former prime minister Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party's Vice Chairman, was arrested on August 19 under the Official Secrets Act for violating the secrecy of the official cable sent by the Pakistani embassy in the US to the foreign office when he was the foreign minister.

He was later remanded by the special court in Federal Investigation Agency's custody for four days till August 25.

Khan has for long mentioned the missing cable as evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to remove him as the prime minister in April last year.

Judge Abual Hasnat on Friday conducted an in-camera hearing of the case in the special court, which was recently established under the Official Secrets Act — approved by the parliament earlier this month amid immense opposition by lawmakers, Geo News reported.

Qureshi was produced at the judicial complex, heavily secured by the Frontier Corps and Islamabad Police personnel, after he was arrested by the FIA on August 20.

He was represented by his counsel Shoaib Shaheen, who opposed Qureshi's physical remand by the FIA.

The special prosecutor for the case, Zulfiqar Naqvi, had sought a nine-day remand of the PTI leader, however, the judge remanded Qureshi into FIA's custody for three days.

According to a report by The News, the trial of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his deputy Qureshi in the cipher case, under the Official Secrets Act, is expected to start within a fortnight.

Official sources said the FIA is trying to complete the challan by next week for the initiation of trial in the recently formed special court. The FIA has already arrested both Khan and Qureshi in the case.

Qureshi was foreign minister when the issue of the diplomatic cable erupted.

The purported cipher (secret diplomatic cable) contained an account of a meeting between US State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan last year.

Of late, Khan has come under increased scrutiny following the publication of a purported copy of the secret cable by the US media outlet The Intercept, with many in the previous government led by Shehbaz Sharif pointing fingers at the PTI chief for being the source of the leak.

Khan, 70, is currently serving a three-year jail term after he was sentenced by a court in a corruption case earlier this month.

Published 25 August 2023, 10:38 IST

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