Imran’s Toshakhana sentence suspended but detention at Attock Jail to continue in cipher case

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Imran’s Toshakhana sentence suspended but detention at Attock Jail to continue in cipher case

Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s three-year sentence in the Toshakhana case. However, a special court recently established to hear cases under the Official Sec­rets Act has directed the Attock Jail authorities, where the former premier is incarcerated, to keep Imran in “judicial lockup” and produce him on Aug 30 (tomorrow) in connection with the cipher case.

In a letter addressed to the Attock jail superintendent, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain said: “That accused Imran Khan Niazi s/o Ikramullah Khan Niazi r/o Zaman Park, Lahore is hereby ordered for judicial remand in case FIR mentioned above, who is already detained in district jail, Attock.”

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleges that it contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran from power. Proceedings against PTI Vice Chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the same case are also under way.

The much-anticipated order in the Toshakhana case was announced by an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahan­giri on the former prime minister’s appeal against his prison term.

“The copy of the judgment will be available shortly … all we are saying now is that [Imran’s] request has been approved,” Justice Farooq said.

PTI chairman’s aide on legal affairs Naeem Haider Panjotha also confirmed the same in a post on X (formerly Twitter): “The CJ has accepted our request, suspended the sentence and said a detailed decision would be provided later.”

On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad had convicted the PTI chief in the case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that involved concealing details of state gifts and jailed him for three years. The verdict meant he was disqualified from contesting general elections for five years.

Imran had subsequently filed an appeal in the high court against his conviction. He had also approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the IHC’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court judge who had convicted him.

Last week, however, the SC had acknowledged “procedural defects” in Imran’s conviction but had opted to wait for the IHC decision on Imran’s plea. The court’s observations had drawn the ire of the Pakistan Bar Council, which said there should be no “interference” in matters pending before the subordinate judiciary.

A day ago, ECP’s counsel Advocate Amjad Pervaiz concluded his arguments and urged the court to issue a notice to the state to make it a respondent in the case. For his part, Imran’s lawyer Latif Khosa had said he had no objections to Pervaiz’s plea but had also expressed that the action was not required by the law.

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Ahead of today’s proceedings, a large contingent of Islamabad police stood guard’s outside the IHC. The PTI legal team and Imran’s sisters Aleema Khan and Uzma Khan were among those who attended the hearing.

PTI demands Imran’s release today
Reacting to the development, the PTI demanded that Imran should be released from jail today. A video posted by the party on X showed lawyers chanting “riha karo [release him]” outside the IHC.

Speaking to Media News, PTI Barrister Ali Zafar said: “The high court has fulfilled the requirements of justice. I’ll tell you why: Aside from the merits of the Toshakhana case — which are baseless — the trial judge did not allow Imran to submit witnesses in his defence.

“If witnesses in one’s defence are not allowed, there is no greater [example of a] mistrial.”

He further clarified that for now only the sentence has been suspended.

PTI lawyer Shoaib Shaheen, while talking to media outside the IHC, said Imran should be provided compensation for the number of days he was kept behind bars.

According to PTI Information Secretary Raoof Hasan, Imran’s arrest in any other case after the suspension of his sentence in the Toshakhana case would be “ill-intentioned and mala fide”.

“We are fortunate to be witnessing the re-scripting of Pakistan’s political and legal history,” he said, adding that “justice shall prevail”.

PTI leader Taimur Khan Jhagra said the nation expected Imran to be released from jail today.“The ‘abuse of the law’ campaign against Imran Khan has sunk the country’s systems far enough. We cannot afford more,” he said on X.

Senator Faisal Javed Khan posted verses from the Holy Quran expressing gratitude.However, the PML-N expressed its displeasure towards today’s outcome, with party president Shehbaz Sharif saying that Imran’s sentence had been suspended and “not terminated”.

“The Chief Justice of Pakistan’s message of ’good to see you’ and ‘wish you good luck’ has reached the IHC,” he said, claiming that “everyone knew about the verdict before it was even announced”.

“This moment is a matter of concern for our justice system,” Shehbaz said. “If a clear message is received from the higher judiciary, what else should the subordinate court do?”

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