Cipher inquiry

Published October 4, 2022

IT seems that this government cannot help but overreach itself on matters where good sense would dictate doing nothing and letting matters take their course. Despite ill-conceived earlier attempts to frame terrorism and treason charges against former prime minister Imran Khan, it is now making a fresh bid to take him down through the ‘Cablegate’ audio leaks.

A high-level inquiry to investigate the role of Mr Khan and his close advisers in the affair will be led by the FIA, which can seek assistance from senior officers of other intelligence agencies if need be.

Announced shortly after PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz accused the former prime minister of purloining official documents and demanded a ‘raid’ on Banigala, the inquiry is yet another reminder that our political class cannot help repeating past mistakes.

The government seems to have put little thought into what it is attempting to do. It does not sufficiently acknowledge that its investigation is based on recordings made during the unlawful surveillance of a former prime minister while he was still holding office. That in itself was a serious breach of national security and the prime minister’s privileges. For the government to seem least interested in pursuing this aspect, even though it too has suffered from it, is a poor show.

Editorial: Noon leaks

Secondly, an illegally recorded conversation is not likely to be allowed as evidence in any court of law. How will the government prosecute a case without these leaked audios, which provide the entire grounds for its investigation?

Thirdly, the government seems confused while accusing the PTI leadership of ‘stealing’ the cipher, which would be a violation of the Official Secrets Act. How can the PTI have stolen the cipher when the PDM government formally reviewed it at the National Security Committee forum soon after it took over?

Editorial: Cipher probe offer

The government has also alleged that a ‘copy’ of the cipher has gone missing from the Prime Minister House records. However, this would contradict the contents of the leaked Cablegate recordings, in which it appears that the PTI leaders themselves never had a copy of the cipher, which is why they plotted to manually note down its contents as part of the meeting minutes while it was being read out by a Foreign Office official.

Clearly, the inquiry has not been very well thought through. It will likely end nowhere, or, worse, be used as a tool of victimisation.

One hopes that the government has not felt compelled to announce it under pressure from the PML-N’s Nawaz camp.

It is best for this matter to be resolved by a neutral arbiter so that its findings cannot be impeached on political grounds.

The PTI has already asked for the Supreme Court to look into the matter. Maybe the government should also consider approaching the same forum if it is confident of its stance.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...
Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...