Infostani International: Former Prime Minister Imran Khan questions the transparency of the Feb 8 elections, labeling them the ‘mother of all selections.’ As he faces a cipher case hearing at Adiala Jail, his media interactions are cut short, raising concerns about freedom of expression. Simultaneously, the Islamabad High Court scrutinizes details of Khan’s jail trial, adding complexity to the unfolding political and legal drama.
Imran Khan Questions Election Transparency and Faces Trial Amidst Criticisms of Censorship
Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister, has urged his party to actively engage in electioneering and expressed concerns about the transparency of the upcoming Feb 8 elections. He asserted that the ‘preferential treatment’ given to a single political party has turned these polls into the ‘mother of all selections.’ These remarks were made during his routine interaction with reporters following the cipher case hearing at Adiala Jail.
However, the interaction was abruptly terminated by the jail superintendent, Asad Warraich, who instructed Mr. Khan not to address the media in the makeshift courtroom. Mr. Khan argued it was his right to speak to the media, but Mr. Warraich reminded him that journalists were only allowed to cover the case proceedings, not highlight political statements.
Subsequently, Mr. Khan stated that he would only discuss his trial, and the jail superintendent suggested he obtain permission from the judge if he wished to address reporters. DIG Prisons Rana Rauf intervened, asking reporters to leave as the proceedings had concluded. Mr. Khan protested against what he perceived as ‘censorship.’
Earlier, Mr. Khan criticized the upcoming elections, dubbing them the ‘mother of all selections.’ He alleged that Nawaz Sharif, a “certified money launderer,” was being supported by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government.
He also called for a protest by the PTI next Sunday. Notably, Mr. Khan and several others are facing a reference in the National Accountability Bureau related to the cipher case.
Cipher Case Hearing Updates: Witnesses Testify, Criticisms of Prosecutor, and Islamabad High Court Inquiry
During the cipher case hearing, four witnesses, including ex-foreign secretary Sohail Mehmood and former interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, gave statements. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, former foreign minister, criticized the prosecutor for ‘leading’ the witness and accused him of putting words into the witness’s mouth.
Mr. Qureshi praised Mr. Mehmood’s integrity and objected to the prosecutor’s interventions. Mr. Khan also joined in, stating that everyone was “trying to rescue Donald Lu.” The witness had testified about a cipher regarding discussions with US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu.
The ex-secretary of foreign affairs mentioned that the decoded cipher was sent to various authorities, including the PM and the foreign minister. The judge adjourned proceedings till the next day, with Mr. Khan’s counsel expressing unavailability due to an election campaign.
In a related development, the Islamabad High Court sought details about the course adopted to declare the trial of Mr. Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi in jail. The court declined immediate relief, remarking that it would examine the government’s notification regarding the jail trial and rectify any loopholes. The hearing was adjourned until the next day.