Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan Saturday filed a bail petition at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging the special court’s decision in the cipher case. The development comes days after the special court, which has been established to hear cases filed under the Official Secrets Act, rejected the ex-premier’s plea seeking the same. The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleges that it contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran from power. Imran and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been attending hearings in the case, while PTI leader Asad Umar’s and former principal secretary Azam Khan’s involvement was supposed to be determined during the course of the investigation. While Umar was granted pre-arrest bail on Thursday, Imran and Qureshi were denied post-arrest bail, and their judicial remand – which was extended – will complete on September 26. On Saturday, Imran filed the petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, through his lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar. The State and Interior Ministry Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokar are respondents in the case. The petition urged the IHC to grant Imran post-arrest bail till the final disposal of the cipher case “to meet the ends of justice”. The plea claimed that nearly 200 criminal cases have been filed against the former premier, out of which “almost 40 cases are [on] charges of corruption, murder, sedition, mutiny, foreign funding, NAB (National Accountability Bureau) reference and Toshakhana reference”. It argued that the PTI chief could not avail remedy under section 498 (power to direct admission to bail or reduction of bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The petition alleged that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) operated at the behest of the then interior ministry. It added that the matter of the case not being registered by the foreign ministry had gone unnoticed by Special Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain. “Never before, history has witnessed the ‘arrest’ and ‘prosecution’ of a former prime minister (Imran) and a former foreign minister (Qureshi) under this law (Secrets Act),” the plea stated. It went on to cite past verdicts to argue that “straightaway arrests have been condemned in landmark authoritative judgments”. The petition asserts that the Secrets Act was “originally enacted to hold members of the armed forces (air, navy, army) accountable for violations and breaches of the law”. It contended that neither section 5 (wrongful communication, etc of information) nor section 9 (attempts, incitements, etc) of the Official Secrets Act were applicable in the cipher case, and neither does the law have “any remote relevance to the allegations detailed in the FIR”. The petition further stated that former interior minister Rana Sanaullah and the FIA have made “contradictory statements”, according to which, the “original cipher document is securely held in the custody of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. “The petitioner’s primary concern was to prevent foreign interference in domestic political affairs,” it said. On March 27, 2022, before facing a vote of no-confidence, former premier Imran Khan had taken out a piece of paper – allegedly a diplomatic cypher – from his pocket and waved it at a public gathering in Islamabad, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” to topple his government. The FIA initiated its probe into the so-called “cypher-gate” on July 19, this year after the PML-N-led coalition government announced an official inquiry against the former PM and his close associates for violating the Official Secrets Act, 1923 for illegal possession of the classified document public. The agency arrested Qureshi, who had served as the country’s foreign minister during the PTI’s rule, on August 19. An FIA Counter Terrorism Wing team interrogated Imran on August 26 inside Attock Jail in connection with the case. The agency announced Imran’s arrest on August 29.