Pakistani court suspends FIA’s summons to ex-PM Imran Khan in audio leak case


LAHORE: A top Pakistani court on Tuesday suspended a summons issued to ousted prime minister Imran Khan by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in an inquiry into an audio leak relating to the ‘cypher’ controversy and sought a reply from it by December 19.
Khan on Monday had challenged the government’s inquiry against him in the ‘cypher’ controversy in the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which FIA had summoned him for December 6 to record his statement.
“LHC Justice Asjad Javed Ghural overruled a registrar’s office’s objection to the maintainability of the petition by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief against a call-up notice by the FIA.
“The judge after hearing the arguments of Khan’s counsel advocate Salman Safdar suspended the FIA notice and directed it to submit a reply to the petition by December 19,” a court official told PTI after the hearing.
Justice Ghural had taken up the petition of Khan as an “objection case”.
The FIA had initiated an investigation into audio leaks of Khan related to the US cypher. In the clip which surfaced in September last year, Khan, his principal secretary Azam Khan and former minister Asad Umar were allegedly heard discussing how to “play with the cypher” to give the impression of a foreign conspiracy and build a narrative.
The controversial diplomatic cypher refers to a secret communication to the Pakistani government from the then Pakistani Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed on his meeting with senior State Department official Donald Lu in which the latter is reported to have sought the removal of Khan as prime minister.
The US has repeatedly dismissed Khan’s allegations that it had any role in his ouster as Pakistan’s prime minister in April after he lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly.
The Shehbaz Sharif government took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leak. Later, the cabinet also approved legal action against those involved in the matter.
The FIA had also summoned PTI vice-chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former finance minister Asad Umar in the case.
In his petition, Khan said FIA initiated an inquiry into the alleged audio leak pertaining to the diplomatic cipher received from a foreign country.
“The alleged audio released by the federal government has not only jeopardised the security of as high an office as prime minister but is also a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” Khan said.
He said the audio leak matter had already been challenged before the Supreme Court.
Khan said FIA’s inquiry is “politically motivated, initiated with a sole purpose to arm-twist and harass me”.
He urged the court to set aside the impugned summons by declaring it being issued without jurisdiction. “The court should quash the impugned inquiry and earlier notice in the interest of justice since no wrongdoing whatsoever has been pointed out against the petitioner,” Khan requested.
The former prime minister who was ousted through a no-confidence motion in April last year had claimed that the Opposition’s no-trust move was part of an alleged “foreign-funded conspiracy” hatched against his government over his refusal to have Pakistan’s foreign policy be influenced from abroad (the US).