The Islamabad High Court (IHC) fixed on Saturday Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief and former prime minister Imran Khan’s bail application hearing in the missing cypher case for Monday (September 25). The IHC registrar issued the cause list for next week’s hearings, which included the PTI chief’s bail plea. The case will be heard by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq. The court has issued a notice to the FIA seeking the agency’s arguments. Earlier, the court had also sought arguments from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding the case. The special court – established under the Official Secrets Act – had rejected the post-arrest bail pleas of Khan and his party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the case of the missing cipher. Both Khan and Qureshi have been kept behind bars on judicial remand in the cipher case till September 26. Last month, the FIA booked the PTI chief and his party’s vice chairman under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly misplacing and misusing the classified document for vested political interests. Subsequently, both leaders were arrested in connection with the investigation into the case and a special court was established under the Official Secrets Act to try the accused. The PTI chief was arrested in the Toshakhana case on August 5, and while his detention was suspended by the IHC on August 29, he remains incarcerated in the cipher case, bringing his days in jail to a total of 50 so far. Imran had approached the IHC after the special court – 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 had 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 last week, Imran and Qureshi were denied post-arrest bail, and their judicial remand – which was extended – will complete on September 26. Imran had on Sep 16 filed the petition 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. The plea went on to allege, “This is another like attempt, made by the state functionaries, to secure the straightway arrest of the petitioner after suspension of his sentence in Toshakhana reference.”. It further said that the respondents’ acts depict “clear mala fide, hostility, and vindictive motives to harm the petitioner in his office, career, person, reputation, and dignity”. The plea stated that the petitioner was ready to furnish reasonable surety to the entire satisfaction of the court and also undertook “not to abscond or tamper with the prosecution witnesses”. Asserting that the PTI chief is “one of the few honest and dignified statesmen of Pakistan”, the petition recalled Imran’s cricket career and philanthropic contributions. It went on to contend that his “mandate and growing popularity it got from the masses became a threat to the already well-established political forces”. The plea added that state machinery was being misused with the sole objective of “political victimisation and score-settling”.