ISLAMABAD: PTI chief Imran Khan is due to appear today (Tuesday) before an Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team looking into the cipher issue, a day after his aides Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Asad Umar were questioned in connection with the same case.
In remarks telecast over social media on Monday night, the PTI chairman said he had no idea what the agency wanted to quiz him about.
He admitted that a cipher was a most secret document, as its leak could compromise the secrecy of the entire network of diplomatic communications.
Mr Khan also claimed that the cipher “had never left the foreign office”, therefore there was no question of it being lost.
Last week, former principal secretary Azam Khan had recorded a ‘confessional statement’, accusing former prime minister Imran Khan of using the coded document to subvert the no-confidence motion.
Following these revelations, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accused Mr Khan of undermining national security and also blamed Mr Qureshi for abetting in the crime.
An eight-member joint investigation team, headed by Rana Jabbar, Director Islamabad Zone of the FIA, recorded the statements of Mr Qureshi and Mr Umar on Monday.
Talking to the media after his appearance before the FIA team, Mr Qureshi said the cipher was an undeniable fact. He said that it was very sensitive issue, and two sessions of the National Security Committee (NSC) were convened — one chaired by Mr Khan and another convened by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He said that in both sittings, this fact was never rejected, and it was treated as interference in Pakistan’s internal matter, and the NSC decided to send demarche in Islamabad and Washington.
He regretted that the Supreme Court did not entertain the petition seeking probe into the cipher issue; otherwise, the issue would have been resolved much earlier.
He pointed out that the no-confidence motion was tabled, and Mr Khan being prime minister, reacted accordingly.
Mr Khan had, in a public gathering on March 27, 2022 in Islamabad, waved a letter claiming that it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” backed by the US for regime change.
The interior minister explained that since the cipher was a confidential document, its disclosure in the public was unlawful and crime.
While the former principal secretary confessed that the original copy of cipher was still missing, the interior minister hinted that Mr Khan still has it and said that Mr Khan would be booked for violating the Official Secrets Act.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2023