After a totally unwarranted delay of 24 days, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) finally suspended on August 29 the sentence handed down to Imran Khan on August 5.
The former prime minister and Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has languished in a stinking cell in Attock Jail since August 5.
The ‘guilty’ verdict by a lowly district and sessions judge in what came to be called the Toshakhana case was scandalous.
Even though the IHC ordered Imran Khan’s release, he remains incarcerated.
In its written verdict, the two-member bench of the Islamic High Court comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri suspended Imran Khan’s three-year sentence and ordered his release after posting a surety bond of Rs100,000.
The IHC verdict reads in part:
“The instant application is allowed and the sentence awarded by the trial court vide judgment dated 5/8/2023 is suspended, consequently, the applicant is ordered to be released on bail in the instant matter subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs100,000 with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction the deputy registrar (judicial) of this court.”
So, why does Imran Khan continue to languish in jail?
There is no justice in Pakistan.
Courts have become a joke; they always were but in recent months, they have fallen to new depths of depravity.
Judges take their orders from the goons in uniform who are the real masters of the country.
Imran Khan has been charged in another case relating to the alleged leak of the cipher, one that his opponents in the political arena and the military had completely denied ever existed!
According to reports, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officially ‘arrested’ Imran Khan on August 28 under the Official Secrets Act 1923 while in prison.
For the arrest to take place, the accused has to be presented in court. This has not happened in Imran Khan's case.
Such is the state of anarchy and lawlessness in Pakistan.
The counter-terrorism wing of the FIA had registered a First Information Report (FIR) in the case against the former prime minister alleging that he had misused a classified document, called the cipher, for political purposes.
Imran Khan was interrogated in Attock Jail by a team of FIA officials on August 26.
The interrogation related to the whereabouts of the cipher, the same one that his opponents had previously denied even existed.
What is the cipher?
On March 7, 2022, a low-level US state department official, Donald Lu had met Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington DC and told him in no uncertain terms that unless the Pakistani parliament dismisses Imran Khan as prime minister, the country would face serious consequences.
If he was removed, all will be forgiven!
The date is important.
Opposition politicians and some parliamentarians aligned with Imran Khan’s party were bribed by the army high command to vote against the prime minister in the no-confidence vote.
It was presented in parliament on March 8 and had the backing of then army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The no-confidence vote was held on April 9, 2022.
Let us return to Donald Lu’s threat to the Pakistani ambassador, Dr Asad Majeed.
As a senior diplomat and a responsible official, the ambassador immediately communicated the threatening message from Lu to the Pakistan Foreign Office using the official secret code.
This was the ambassador’s duty to convey all information faithfully and accurately to the foreign office.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi informed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the message from the ambassador.
It was a very serious issue: a foreign government demanding the overthrow of an elected prime minister.
Imran Khan convened a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to discuss the matter.
This body comprises, in addition to the prime minister, the foreign minister, defence minister, interior minister, all three heads of the armed forces as well as the intelligence chief.
The NSC deliberated on the issue and collectively agreed that it was a serious matter and the foreign office should call the US ambassador in Islamabad to issue a demarche for interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
This was duly done given the gravity of the situation.
A point of clarification is necessary.
When a cipher (which is communicated in code language) is received, it is translated by the foreign office staff and its gist presented to the relevant authorities.
It was the gist of the message that was communicated to Prime Minister Imran Khan who together with the foreign minister presented it in the NSC meeting.
On March 27, 2022, ahead of the army-instigated vote of no-confidence in parliament, Imran Khan had pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and waved it in a public gathering in Islamabad.
He said it was evidence of an international conspiracy to topple his government.
It would be difficult to interpret this any other way.
The US has a long history of interfering in other countries’ affairs and overthrowing leaders that do not follow its diktats.
Pakistan’s military bosses want to eliminate Imran Khan from the political scene, perhaps even kill him because they fear his return to power if elections are held.
The cases against him are meant to exhaust him through endless court appearnaces.
The cipher case is but one in a long list of others.
The FIA allegation against Imran Khan that is being peddled by the army is that he had waved the cipher during his March 27 rally.
Imran Khan denies this.
He could not have had the cipher with him, only its gist in translation form.
This is what he communicated on August 26 to his interrogators in jail who are part of the joint investigation team (JIT).
A special court has been formed under the Official Secrets Act to be presided over by judge Abul Hasan Muhammad Zulqarnain.
The judge has remanded Imran Khan into judicial custody in jail till August 30.
While no such notice has been issued to Imran Khan’s lawyers, the lawless state of affairs in Pakistan has resulted in the court directing the superintendent of Attock jail to keep the ex-PM in the judicial lockup.
He must be presented in court tomorrow (August 30).
Thus, even though the Islamabad High Court has suspended his conviction in the Toshakhana case and ordered his release, Imran Khan continues to languish in prison.
Such outrageous violations of the basic rights can only occur in Pakistan where people have been driven to such poverty and despair that they are committing suicide because they cannot feed their children.
All these violations fall squarely on the shoulders of the army top brass who have brought Pakistan and its 240 million people to a state of despair.