Pakistan's jailed former PM Imran Khan's lawyer asks court to disregard Azam Khan's testimony

Islamabad, April 3

Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s counsel has urged a top court here to discard the testimony of his ex-aide Azam Khan in the cipher case as it was ostensibly obtained under dubious circumstances.

Barrister Salman Safdar made the argument before an Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on Tuesday that Azam Khan, once a close confidant of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and an accused in the case, went missing in June 2023.

Then instead of recording his confession, the former principal secretary to Imran Khan testified against him before an investigation officer and magistrate.

The IHC was on Tuesday hearing appeals filed by 71-year-old Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi against their conviction under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, for misusing a cipher (secret diplomatic communication) to the detriment of national interests, Dawn News reported.

Just two weeks before the ouster of the PTI government in April 2022 through a vote of no-confidence, Khan had brandished a piece of paper-allegedly a copy of a diplomatic cipher-at a public rally in Islamabad, claiming it as proof of a conspiracy against his government by a foreign power.

Safdar said the case’s first information report was registered on August 15 last year and Khan recorded his statement the next day.

The IHC bench perused the record and found that Azam Khan went missing on June 15 and re-emerged on July 20, recording his statement a month later.

Safdar raised doubts about the ex- bureaucrat’s testimony and argued that it was recorded under dubious circumstances.

He urged the court not to give any credence to Azam Khan’s testimony, arguing that the magistrate recorded his statement without issuing prior notice to other accused persons.

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