Hours after the Islamabad High Court granted relief to former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, suspended the Toshakhana case verdict and ordered that he be released on bail, a special court directed that Khan remain in "judicial lockup" in connection with the cypher case on Tuesday, 29 August.
The cricketer-turned politician, who is currently lodged in Attock Jail, will now be presented in court on Wednesday, 30 August, where the case will be heard under the Official Secrets Act.
“You are hereby directed to keep him in the judicial lockup and produce him on 30.08.23 before this court,” the order said. Khan has remained in prison since his arrest and further sentencing on 5 August over charges of unlawfully selling state gifts while in the PM's office. The conviction also led to Khan being barred from contesting elections for five years by the election commission.
What is the Cypher Case Against Imran Khan?
During an interrogation, Khan acknowledged misplacing a confidential diplomatic cable, and allegations against Khan claimed improper use of the classified document. This cable had been previously highlighted by Khan as evidence of a US-backed plot to unseat him from the prime minister's position the prior year.
The alleged encrypted message documented a meeting involving US State Department officials, including Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and the former Pakistani envoy, Asad Majeed Khan.
Khan had waved the alleged document during a public rally shortly before being removed as prime minister in April 2022, asserting it as evidence of a US-backed foreign conspiracy.
The encrypted document case against Khan escalated when his principal secretary, Azam Khan, affirmed to a magistrate and the FIA that Khan had utilized the US encrypted communication for his own "political advantage" and to forestall a vote of no confidence against him the preceding year.
Islamabad HC Rules in Favour of Imran Khan
While ruling in Imran Khan's favour, Islamabad HC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said, “The copy of the judgment will be available shortly … all we are saying now is that [Imran’s] request has been approved."
The former PM's legal team had lodged a new petition in the IHC (Islamabad High Court), seeking directives to prevent authorities from engaging in any further "unlawful and unjustified arrests" of the former prime minister in cases filed against him subsequent to his conviction in the Toshakhana case.
Dawn reported that the petition specifically refers to the cypher case—a case initiated by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on 15 August. The FIA had recently questioned Khan for over an hour in connection with this case, which invokes the Official Secrets act.
The petition also highlights that Imran Khan would undergo "irreparable damage" if he were to be apprehended for a new offense that he did not commit.
Imran Khan's Arrest in Toshakhana Case
On 5 August, a trial court in Islamabad sentenced the PTI chief following a case brought forth by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), known as the Toshakhana Case.
Subsequently, Khan lodged an appeal in the high court contesting his conviction. Simultaneously, he approached the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the Islamabad HC's decision to return the case to the trial judge who had initially found him guilty.
During the previous week, the SC acknowledged certain "procedural defects" in Imran Khan's conviction but decided to await the IHC's ruling on his appeal.
What is the Toshakhana Case?
The Toshakhana is a department under the control of Pakistan’s Cabinet Division, which is responsible for storing gifts and other expensive items given to public officials and under its rules, officials must report these gifts to the Cabinet Division.
While PMs or presidents can retain gifts that cost less than PKR 30,000 for themselves, more expensive gifts must be kept in the Toshakhana under Pakistani law.
If the public official wants to retain a gift, they can pay a fraction of the gift’s value, as determined by the Toshakhana evaluation committee.
While the percentage was around 20 percent of the monetary value of a gift, Imran Khan's government raised it to 50 percent after he entered office in 2018.
The allegation against Khan is that he "deliberately concealed" details of the gifts that he retained from the Toshakhana and proceeds from their reported sales when he was the prime minister of Pakistan.