Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Imran Khan, and his wife have formed a special division bench at the Islamabad Court to hear their case

In order to hear the appeals of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi, and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday against their convictions in the cipher and Toshakhana cases, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) formed a special division bench on Saturday, according to Pakistan-based Dawn.

In the cipher case, Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have both contested their convictions and 10-year sentences. In the Toshakhana case, Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi appealed their convictions. They were each given a 14-year jail term and ordered to pay a fine of 1.54 billion Pakistani Rupees (PKR) by the court.

The appeals will be heard on Monday by the IHC division bench, which is made up of Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Chief Justice Aamer Farooq. According to the appeal against conviction in the cipher case, the August 16, 2023, arrest and remand hearing was handled in the “most objectionable, clandestine, and secretive manner.”

Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was accused together with Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a hurry, the IHC division bench said, citing the prosecution’s failure to provide the whole record before the trial court, according to the Dawn article.

The two leaders recounted in the appeal that the “glaring illegalities” forced the IHC division bench to twice abandon the trial court sessions. Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, however, is accused of ending the trial without adhering to the required procedural standards.

According to the appeal, Imran Khan and his attorney gave the trial court their full cooperation and refrained from requesting an unwarranted delay to drag out the legal processes. The trial concluded in less than 20 days, however the judge failed to guarantee a fair trial, and the “proceedings were hurried through by the court at a breakneck speed for reasons known only to the court itself.”

When a counsel appeared before the Islamabad High Court and another lawyer had to fly to Lahore for dental surgery, the hearing was postponed until January 25, according to the appeal, during which the defense council cross-examined four prosecution witnesses, Dawn said. The court appointed state attorneys for Pakistan’s former prime minister Khan and foreign minister Qureshi, postponing the hearing until January 27.

The appeal said that Khan and Qureshi opposed vehemently to “these so-called state counsels without their consent but to no avail.” The two leaders then asked the judge to summon their lead attorney to ask for help with the cross-examination. The trial judge, however, declined to hold off on him.

It was noted in the appeal that the trial in the cipher case was moved to a “secret room” and ended in a “very short span of time.” According to Dawn, the appeal in the Toshakhana case claimed that the trial was conducted against the basic right to a fair trial.

According to the appeal, the court was assisted by Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi, and their legal representatives. Judge Muhammad Bashir, however, “suddenly and illegally” ended their opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses on January 29.

According to the appeal, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the main attorney, was challenging the results and had previously asked the Supreme Court and lower courts for a general delay. The trial court, however, turned down his motion.

The appeal claims that since the court was “under some undue pressure to decide the case before Feb 8, 2024,” which was the date of Pakistan’s elections, alternate counsel Zaheer Abbas was not allowed a sufficient amount of time to prepare for the arguments, Dawn reported.

According to the appeal, defense attorneys attempted to resume cross-examination on January 30. The plea was denied, however, and the court postponed the hearing until January 31. On that day, the judge rendered a decision without even recording Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi’s testimonies in accordance with Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code. As to the statement, Imran Khan was found guilty by the accountability court “in a haphazard manner, bypassing the procedure and settled practice [and] under apparent/visible pressure.”

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