Monday, May 27

Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the PTI is detained by the FIA in connection with a cipher investigation.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing a press conference in this undated picture

Qureshi is detained by the FIA at his Islamabad home.
For mishandling a confidential document, Qureshi and Khan were arrested.
PTI denounces Qureshi’s “illegal and unjustified” detention.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, vice chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was detained on Saturday at his apartment in Islamabad in connection with a probe into cipher, which the PTI claims contained a threat from the United States to depose Imran Khan.

Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti revealed that Qureshi had been brought into custody while speaking on the Geo News show Naya Pakistan.

Qureshi was detained, according to the interim security czar, because he was named in the cipher case.

The party leader was detained at his home and taken to the FIA’s offices in the federal capital, according to the PTI.

Shortly after Qureshi attended a press conference to deny rumors that there was a power struggle inside the party to succeed imprisoned party president Imran Khan, he was arrested.

The party leader was detained at his home and taken to the FIA’s offices in the federal capital, according to the PTI.

The comment made by Khan, the party’s head, regarding the cipher investigation, according to FIA sources, led to the arrest of the PTI leader.

Only two days prior, PTI chief Khan, who has been detained in Attock Jail following his conviction in the Toshakhana case, was mentioned in a report.

After learning that the former prime minister was deliberately involved in abusing the confidential document, an investigation by the FIA’s counter-terrorism wing led to the case being filed against him. The former prime minister was removed from office in April of last year after a no-confidence motion.

The PTI chief’s booking under Section 5 of the recently modified act was also confirmed by government sources. Authorities were reluctant to release a copy of the FIR, though.

The FIA interrogated Qureshi and PTI leader Asad Umar for about two hours earlier in July of this year in relation to the investigation into contentious US cryptography.

Qureshi has repeatedly stated that the US cipher was fact, confirming the party chief’s allegations that the US orchestrated his removal from office by

After his principal secretary Azam Khan testified before a magistrate and the FIA that the former PM had utilized the US cipher for his “political gains” and to avoid a vote of no-confidence against him, the cipher case against the former premier took a severe turn.

According to the former bureaucrat’s confession, he was “euphoric” when he gave the cipher to the previous premier and called the language a “US blunder” at the time. Azam quotes the ex-prime minister as saying that the cable may be used to “create a narrative against establishment and opposition.”

Despite his recommendation to the PTI chairman to refrain from such behavior, according to Azam, the PTI chairman employed the US cipher at political events. He noted that the previous prime minister

Khan, Qureshi booked under Secrets Act

Qureshi was arrested after a first information report (FIR) was registered against him and PTI chief Khan under Official Secrets Act for disclosing the contents of the diplomatic cipher for political gains on August 15.

The FIR said the deposed prime minister and the former foreign minister revealed the content of the classified document to unauthorised persons and twisted facts “for ulterior motives and personal gains in a manner prejudical to the interests of state security”.

“They held a clandestine meeting at [Khan’s Bani Gala residence] on March 28, 2022, to conspire to misuse the contents of cipher in order to accomplish their nefarious designs,” it said, adding that former premier and ex-foreign minister directed to distort its contents.

The FIR also said that the deposed prime minister harmed national security by using the cipher telegram, adding that he illegally kept a copy of cipher telegram with “malafide intention” that was sent to the PM Office by then Pakistan envoy to US.

“The former premier maliciously kept the copy and did not send it back to the Foreign Office,” the FIR said.

It also said that the ex-PM still has a copy of the cipher.

The unauthorised retention and misuse of cipher telegram by the accused person “compromised” the entire cipher security system of the state and secret communication method of Pakistani missions abroad, read the FIR.

“These actions by the accused persons directly/indirectly benefited the interest of foreign powers and caused loss to the State of Pakistan.”

It added that the role of the former principal secretary Azam Khan will be ascertained during the course of investigation.

Caretakers pursuing PDM’s fascist agenda’

In a statement, the PTI spokesperson condemned the “illegal and unjustified” arrest of Qureshi, terming it the “worst example” of misuse of the law.

The party spokesperson said the caretaker government is carrying forward the agenda of “lawlessness and fascism” of the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government.

“There is no justification for the arrest of Shah Mahmood Qureshi under the guise of investigating the secret diplomatic cable,” the spokesperson said, adding that the party leader was “fully cooperating” with FIA’s team.

The statement further said Qureshi’s real crime was expressing unequivocal confidence in the leadership of PTI chief Imran Khan and added that all “nefarious” attempts to halt the party’s decision-making process will be thwarted.

It said the PTI will continue running party affairs under the mechanism approved by the incarcerated party chief.

“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will prepare a legal action plan for the immediate release of Shah Mahmood Qureshi,” the spokesperson added.

Cable gate

The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — just days before his ouster — brandished a letter, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which mentioned that his government should be removed from power.

He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor mention the name of the nation that had sent it. But a few days later, he named the United States and said that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal.

The cipher was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed’s meeting with Lu.

The former prime minister, claiming that he was reading contents from the cipher, said that “all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power”.

Then on March 31, the NSC took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the country for its “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.

Later, after his removal, then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a meeting of the NSC, which came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher.

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