Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan will remain in a high-security prison for at least another two weeks despite being granted bail the previous day, as a court extended his detention Wednesday in a case involving the revealing of an official secret document, a defence lawyer said.
The special court — which was recently established to look into anyone accused of disclosing state secrets — announced the decision after a brief closed-door hearing that was held at a high-security Attock prison in the eastern Punjab province, lawyer Intazar Hussain Panjutha said.
The next court hearing will be on Sept. 2, he said.
The court also on Wednesday sent Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a top leader from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, to 14 days in prison pending trial. Qureshi, who was arrested earlier this month, is facing the same charge of disclosing state secrets.
Khan’s other lawyer, Salman Safdar, told reporters that he is petitioning a court to seek bail for Khan in the latest case. He said he is challenging Khan’s imprisonment and jail trial as “it is illogical and unconstitutional.”
The latest development was a blow to Khan and his legal team, which expected his release after a court in the capital, Islamabad, suspended the corruption conviction and three-year prison term of the former premier. Tuesday’s ruling by the Islamabad High Court, which also granted bail, was a major legal victory for Khan. He has been held in prison since Aug. 5, when he was arrested after his conviction and sentencing by another court.
Khan has been embroiled in more than 150 cases since his ouster through a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022.
One of the key cases against him was registered by the Federal Investigation Agency earlier in August on charges of “exposing an official secret document,” which Khan had waved at a political rally in Islamabad after his removal. In his televised speeches, Khan repeatedly described the document as proof of a threat to him from the United States.
The document, dubbed Cipher, has not been made public by the government but apparently contained diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Before his arrest, Khan publicly said his removal was a conspiracy by the United States, his successor Shehbaz Sharif, and the Pakistani military’s former chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa — accusations that they all deny. Sharif stepped down on July 28 after the parliament’s term ended.
Bajwa was set to retire in 2019, but Khan extended his tenure for three more years. They later disagreed over the appointment of the head of Pakistan’s spy agency.
Pakistan’s powerful military has directly ruled the country for more than half of its 75-year history.
Khan’s continued detention will give an edge to his political rivals ahead of the vote to be held later in the year. Pakistan’s election oversight body said that elections must be delayed for at least three to four months because it needs more time to redraw constituencies to reflect the recently held census. It is widely believed that the vote will be delayed until February.
However, until then, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar is running the day-to-day affairs.