-Cabinet forms Special Committee to determine legal action against all involved
-Supports NSC’s decision on probe of audio leaks
-In second cypher-related leak, Imran and PTI bigwigs purportedly strategies ‘foreign conspiracy’
By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: The Federal cabinet was on Friday informed that the copy of the diplomatic cypher allegedly carrying the details of the US’s purported threat to ex-premier Imran Khan’s government was “missing” from Prime Minister House records.
According to a handout issued after the meeting, the cabinet declared that the “theft” of diplomatic cypher records is a “serious matter”.
After detailed deliberations, the cabinet formed a special committee which will determine the legal action against all those involved including the ex-premier, ex-principal secretary to prime minister and senior ministers. “The cabinet committee will consist of the representatives of the coalition parties in the government, along with ministers,” the handout added.
The meeting participants were informed that the record of the receipt of the cypher was available with the relevant department, but the diplomatic cable was missing. “According to the law, this document is the property of Prime Minister House,” the statement said.
With regard to the audios, it was told that the audios purportedly featuring Imran and his aides exposed “the criminal conspiracy of the former government”, while the cypher was given “fictitious meanings for political mileage and subsequently it was stolen after fraud, forgery, fabrication.”
The cypher, based on then-envoy Asad Majeed’s meeting with State Department official Donald Lu, has been at the centre of PTI’s claim that the US conspired with elements within Pakistan to dislodge Imran from office.
On the issue of recent audio leaks, the cabinet endorsed the National Security Committee’s decision to conduct a thorough investigation into the issue.
Just days after an audio recording was released, allegedly of PTI chairman Imran Khan and his former principal secretary Azam Khan, another one surfaced on Friday — supposedly a continuation of the conversation in the previous recording — featuring who are believed to be PTI leaders Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussing the “foreign conspiracy” cypher with the former premier and ex-principal secretary.
The clip making rounds on social media purportedly features a conversation between Imran, Azam, Umar and Qureshi about a cypher that the PTI chief has for long presented as evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him from the top office. A similar audio recording, of a supposed conversation between Imran and Azam discussing the cypher, had surfaced earlier this week as well.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry did not disavow the contents of the audio but said that the purpose of such leaks was to divert attention from the acquittal of Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield case.
“We took whatever caution was possible in diplomatic matters,” Chaudhry said in a tweet. He said that the name of the country [US] was not revealed until the cabinet declassified the cypher. “The name, however, had to come to light when the cypher had been declassified.”
Another party leader, Shahbaz Gill, pointed out a flaw in the subtitle of the leaked audio, clarifying that Imran had reportedly asked a person at the other end to jot down minutes. “But the subtitle mentions that the minutes of our choice shall be written.”
Former state minister Farrukh Habib said the probe into cypher had now become the need of the hour, insisting that it was a reality and no Pakistani was willing to accept the intervention of a foreign power to effect regime change in the country.