Cipher saga

Published July 21, 2023

THERE is little that can be described as revelatory in the ‘confessional statement’ being attributed to Azam Khan, principal secretary to former prime minister Imran Khan. It had been widely known, following the ‘audio leaks’ saga of last year, that he was privy to how the so-called ‘Ciphergate’ controversy came into being, as well as the PTI leadership’s actual motives for giving it air.

Leaked recordings of his conversations with Imran Khan on the matter had already established that the former PM had discussed the prospect of ‘playing up’ the contents of a diplomatic cable from Washington for political purposes, and it was evident that the move was aimed at building political momentum on PTI’s side at a time when the party was facing defeat in the vote of no-confidence brought against its government by the combined opposition.

With elections around the corner, it seems a last-ditch attempt is being made to knock Imran Khan out of the race. The means being adopted to do so are troubling. One of the senior-most officers of the state, Azam Khan remained missing for over a month after he disappeared soon after leaving his house in Islamabad for an appointment on June 15.

Hours after reports surfaced that he had ‘exposed’ his former boss, he was quietly returned home. His lawyer said he was “in no condition” to comment on the firestorm his alleged confession has kicked off. No one has satisfactorily answered where Azam Khan had been while the state searched for him as a ‘missing person’.

Instead, the FIA and interior ministry seem more concerned with nabbing the former PM. A statement made before a magistrate, if duly recorded, does have evidential value, but there are far too many missing pieces in this puzzle. Could this be why the interior minister has sought Imran Khan’s trial in a special court under the Official Secrets Act?

In a late-night address a day after Azam Khan’s supposed statement, the PTI chief said the cipher he received from Washington had alerted him to a conspiracy to take down his government.

To this day, only a handful of people actually know what it said. The public only knows it was problematic enough for it to be termed ‘blatant interference’ in the country’s affairs by the NSC on two separate occasions.

Imran Khan believes that a full inquiry into the matter will uncover a conspiracy in which key political leaders and the former army chief will be found involved.

Since it has once again dragged the matter into the limelight, perhaps it is time for the state to lay the facts before the public and put the matter to rest. It has already become an international embarrassment for the country.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Saudi investment
Updated 10 Apr, 2024

Saudi investment

The state has to address barriers that stand in the way of attracting foreign investment, and create a pro-business environment.
Charity for change
Updated 11 Apr, 2024

Charity for change

PAKISTANIS are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford...
World Bank’s advice
Updated 09 Apr, 2024

World Bank’s advice

The next IMF programme will be far tougher than any other Pakistan has embarked on in the past.
Middle East heat
09 Apr, 2024

Middle East heat

America must communicate to Israel that further provocations, particularly targeting sovereign states, will be unacceptable.
Killing fields
09 Apr, 2024

Killing fields

PERHAPS rankled by the daily flood of grisly news — murders, armed robberies, muggings and kidnappings — and...