The Legal Saga Continues: Imran Khan’s Cipher Case Trial Delayed Until January 11


The political landscape in Pakistan is once again under the spotlight as the Islamabad High Court has decided to halt the trial of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his close aide, ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in the cipher case. This case revolves around the alleged leaking of state secrets and violations of the country’s laws, adding another layer to the legal challenges faced by the 71-year-old Khan.

Background of the Cipher Case

The Special Court’s Fresh Proceedings

Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb issued the order to halt the ongoing trial while hearing Imran Khan’s petition against an in-camera trial in the Adiala Jail Rawalpindi. The Special Court initiated fresh proceedings earlier this month, indicting the accused on December 13. This followed the annulment of previous proceedings by the Islamabad High Court, citing procedural irregularities in the jail trial.

The In-Camera Trial Controversy

Despite the correction of anomalies and an attempt to ensure an open trial in the presence of the media, the government successfully argued for in-camera proceedings due to the sensitivity of the matter. During the recent hearing, Justice Aurangzeb questioned the deviation from the court’s order for an open trial, leading to the issuance of notices to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the subsequent stay on the trial until January 11.

Details of the Cipher Case

Alleged Mishandling of a Diplomatic Document

The cipher case revolves around the alleged mishandling of a diplomatic document sent by the Pakistan embassy in March of the previous year. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed the case on August 15, asserting that Khan and Qureshi violated the secret laws of the country while attempting to exploit the cable for political purposes.

Sections Invoked by the FIA

The charge sheet, filed on September 30, invoked sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, carrying severe penalties ranging from a death sentence to two to 14 years of imprisonment if convicted. The FIA’s case alleges that Khan and Qureshi used the diplomatic cable for political gains, leading to charges that could have significant legal consequences.

Khan and Qureshi’s Pleas

Both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were granted bail by the Supreme Court in the cipher case. The accused have consistently pleaded not guilty to the charges, with their defense emphasizing that the cable contained a threat from the United States to topple the PTI’s government.

Legal Ramifications and Political Landscape

Imran Khan’s ousting through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022 marked a turning point in Pakistani politics. The cipher case is just one of over 150 cases registered against him since his departure from power, underscoring the complex legal challenges faced by the former prime minister.


As the legal saga surrounding Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi continues, the delay in the cipher case trial until January 11 adds another chapter to the ongoing narrative. The intricacies of the case, from allegations of mishandling diplomatic documents to the invocation of serious legal provisions, highlight the complex intersection of law and politics in Pakistan.

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