Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former foreign minister and vice chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was detained from his residence in Islamabad on Saturday, according to sources.
The senior PTI leader was apprehended after a press conference in which he proclaimed an appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the probable postponement of general elections. According to sources cited by The Express Tribune, Qureshi has been transferred to the FIA headquarters in the nation’s capital.
When contacted, a spokesperson for the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said he was unaware of the development and would corroborate it after conducting further research.
In the meantime, an Islamabad Police spokesperson confirmed that Qureshi was apprehended by the FIA.
According to sources cited by The Express Tribune, the counterterrorism division of the Federal Investigation Agency registered a case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan in connection with the “missing cypher” and invoked severe legal provisions.
According to the sources, a senior officer who requested anonymity claimed to have received orders from authorities to remain mute on the matter.
Qureshi and senior PTI leader Asad Umar appeared last month before a joint investigation team (JIT) headed by the FIA that is investigating the alleged manipulation of a classified diplomatic cypher during the PTI’s rule.
The JIT is conducting the investigation at the request of the former cabinet, which alleges that former prime minister Imran Khan, his associates including Qureshi, and his former principal secretary jeopardised the national security and interests of the state by directly disclosing classified information—a diplomatic cipher—without authorization.
In addition, they are accused of misusing and unlawfully retaining the cypher telegram.
On March 27, 2022, prior to a vote of no-confidence that led to his ouster, Imran Khan pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and waved it at a massive public meeting in Islamabad, claiming it was proof of a “international conspiracy” to overthrow his government.
Qureshi, the vice chairman of the PTI, served as foreign minister between August 2018 and April 2022, when the party was in power.
Earlier in the day, during a press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi voiced grave concerns about the escalating pressure on PTI employees.
Usman Dar, a prominent member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and his family were subjected to unwarranted harassment, including intimidation of his wife and children last night and the closure of Dar’s business, affecting the livelihoods of more than 2,500 people. These actions were condemned by Qureshi, who stated, “I condemn this practise.”
Qureshi questioned why the son of PTI leader Mohsin Khan Leghari was arrested and tortured. “The caretaker prime minister himself promised transparent elections, but it is unclear how transparent elections could be held under these conditions,” he questioned.
He urged Pakistan’s chief justice, Umar Ata Bandial, to take note of the situation and urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action to guarantee a level playing field for all political parties.
“It is incorrect to label PTI as a party in turmoil,” Qureshi emphasised, dispelling the notion that the PTI faces internal strife. He added that there is no alternative to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and that the party’s core committee is actively working under difficult conditions.
Expressing dismay at what he deemed delaying tactics, he stated: “Constitutionally, general elections must be held within 90 days,” adding that the PTI will petition the Supreme Court to contest any election delays.
In this regard, he reported that the party’s legal team, comprised of Advocates Ali Zafar and Suleman Akram Raja, is compiling a petition.
Qureshi criticised the inclusion of two interim chief ministers in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting, contending that it was inappropriate.
He also mentioned that the legal community supported holding elections within 90 days and that Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Sirajul Haq had issued a statement on the matter.
He remarked that the Pakistan Peoples Party’s position on the CCI meeting also demonstrates differences within the former ruling coalition.
When queried about a potential alliance with the PPP in the upcoming general elections, Qureshi stated that the core committee would consult on the matter. He added, “There is no harm in contacting other political parties to ensure that elections are held within 90 days.”