The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday dismissed a petition seeking ‘high treason proceedings’ against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and placing him on the Exit Control List (ECL). The petition – filed by Advocate Molvi Iqbal Haider under Article 199 of the Constitution – called for initiating proceedings under the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 against Imran, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, PTI leader Qasim Khan Suri as well as Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States. It had also requested that their names be placed on the ECL. Additionally, the petition sought an investigation into the contents of a cable sent from the then US ambassador Asad Majeed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Imran Khan, the cable carried details of the ambassador’s meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu in which the latter allegedly threatened Pakistan. Imran and his party linked the purported threat with the no-trust move against him in the National Assembly that led to his ouster from the top office. Majeed, in the cable, reportedly said Lu warned that Khan’s continuation as the prime minister would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The US, Khan claims, was annoyed with his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow. The IHC dismissed the petition as “frivolous”, adding that the petitioner had attempted to make the cable “controversial”. A fine of Rs100,000 was also imposed on the petitioner, says a news report. The court order said: “The rhetoric of treason is deprecated. No citizen can claim to be more patriotic than the other. Likewise, no citizen has the right to declare others as having committed treason.” It said the allegations made against Khan in the petition were “deprecated” and making a cable that had been sent by a Pakistani diplomat “controversial and the subject of litigation” was against the public and state’s interests. “It is an onerous duty of every citizen to ensure that sensitive national security issues are not sensationalized nor politicized. “Dragging diplomats and their classified reporting and assessments into political controversies could undermine Pakistan’s national interests, its diplomacy and external relations,” the court order said. The order stated that it was “settled law” that matters relating to the country’s foreign affairs were “extremely sensitive and therefore not justifiable”. It said the assertions were “vague” and not supported by any credible material that merited making the diplomatic cable a subject of litigation. “It (the cable) was placed before the National Security Committee. It appears that the latter was satisfied that no probe was required. Such sensitive and complex matters ought to be dealt with by the foreign office of Pakistan, rather [than] making them controversial through litigation,” the court order said. It admonished the petitioner, saying that he did not appreciate the importance of a sensitive nature of a diplomatic cable sent by Pakistani diplomats. “The diplomatic cables are of immense importance and have a limited access. They are classified because they enable the Pakistani diplomats to write assessments and analysis uninhabited including disclosing rare things. The diplomats have the assurance that their reporting and assessments would be fully protected and shall not be sensationalized nor politicized.” At the outset of hearing, Justice Athar Minallah asked the petitioner why he was politicizing the issue. “It is the state’s responsibility […] why did you reach out to the court?” Justice Minallah noted. Responding to the judge, Haider said he had filed a treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf and it was his plea on which the action had been taken against Musharraf. At this, CJ Minallah remarked: “Imran Khan was an elected prime minister, don’t compare him with Musharraf.” The court inquired what Haider’s request was. To this, Haider said that the controversy affected Pakistan’s relationship with the US. He argued that the opposition parties had filed a no-confidence motion against then PM Imran Khan, on which Khan first remained silent and then showed a “threat letter” and said that a conspiracy had been hatched against his government. Later, the prime minister revealed that the threatening message was from US Assistant Secretary of State for the South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu. The US authorities rejected the letter, hence, the diplomatic cable should be investigated, pleaded the petitioner. “Interior secretary is bound to get the matter probed. The federal government was responsible for investigating the cable and take the matter to international courts,” he added.