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Friday, May 24, 2024

For Imran and Qureshi, Judge appoints counsels from state in Cypher case

Advocate Malik Abdul Rahman will represent Imran, while Advocate Hazrat Younus will represent Qureshi.

A special court convened to hear cases under the Official Secrets Act appointed state counsels for former Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday. The decision was made by Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain following the absence of the counsels representing the accused during court proceedings on Friday. The previous day’s hearing was disrupted by the counsels’ non-appearance, and despite a scheduled resumption at noon, they failed to attend.

Considering the circumstances, the court underscored that it had provided ample opportunities for the accused’s legal representation to be present. However, as no senior lawyer appeared on behalf of Imran or Qureshi, the court had no choice but to appoint state defense counsel. An email request for the same was sent to the Attorney General’s office in Islamabad, seeking a list of lawyers who could represent the accused as state counsel.

In response to the request, the Attorney General’s office sent a letter naming the lawyers who will now represent Imran and Qureshi in the cypher case. Advocate Malik Abdul Rahman will represent Imran, while Advocate Hazrat Younus will represent Qureshi. Both advocates are scheduled to present the case on behalf of the accused and cross-examine the witnesses, with their arguments set to be presented on January 27.

Background:

During the hearing of a petition filed by the prosecution to terminate the right to cross-examination for witnesses, the counsels for both leaders, currently detained in Adiala jail, failed to appear before the court. Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain had reserved the verdict on the plea on Friday, with Special Prosecutors Zulfikar Abbas Naqvi and Raja Rizwan Abbasi present while the accused lawyers were absent. Assistant lawyers Qamar Anayat Raja and Khalid Yusuf Chaudhary represented the defense.

When asked about the absence of senior lawyers for the accused, Raja filed an application to postpone the hearing, explaining that senior counsel Sikander Zulqarnain was undergoing dental surgery and could not attend. Despite the explanation, the court expressed frustration, noting previous adjournments and the case’s importance.

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Upon the hearing’s resumption, Prosecutor Abbasi accused the defense of intentionally delaying the case, citing legal provisions, while Prosecutor Naqvi raised concerns about the repeated adjournment requests and the inconvenience caused to witnesses from Dubai for cross-examination.