ISLAMABAD: The top Pakistani diplomat who sent a controversial cipher to the foreign ministry believes that the disclosure of a confidential diplomatic cable “undermined the integrity of our communication system” and eroded the credibility of Pakistani diplomats.

This was a contention in the testimony of Dr Asad Majeed Khan, former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, recorded before the investigation officer of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in connection with cipher case.

The statement was handed over to the counsel of former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Both top leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have been nominated as prime suspects in the first information report (FIR) registered under the Official Secrets Act for making the confidential contents of the secret communication public.

Special court allows Imran Khan to speak with sons on phone

During proceedings of the Special Court (Official Secrets Act) on Tuesday, the prosecution shared copies of the challan and the testimonies of the witnesses with the defence counsel.

After a no-confidence motion was tabled against Mr Khan in 2022, he accused the US of conspiring to overthrow his government by disclosing the cipher.

Dr Majeed testified: “As a foreign service professional, I believe that the cipher episode has undermined the integrity of our communication system, the credibility of our diplomats and diplomacy, which has adverse implications for our future diplomatic reporting culture.”

Dr Majeed, a BS-22 officer of the Foreign Service of Pakistan, is one of 30 witnesses the prosecution cited in the challan submitted in the cipher case.

He stated that his meeting with the Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US, Mr Donald Lu, was preplanned.

According to him, the other participants of the meeting were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lesslie Viguerie, from Pakistani side besides Dr Majeed, Defence Attache Brig Nauman Awan, Deputy Chief of Mission Naveed Bokhari and Counsellor Politcial Qasim Mohiuddin.

He stated that the “both sides were aware that the conversation was being minuted” adding that the communication was sent to Islamabad through a secret coded communication system used for correspondence between foreign missions of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.“

He clarified that “sending cipher is a routine practice of diplomatic mission abroad”. There was no reference to words “threat” or “conspiracy” in the secret cipher telegram, “nor did I make any suggestion on the existence of any conspiracy”.

The statement said the then leadership in Islamabad has drawn the political conclusion.

It said that Pakistan responded with a demarche and after reviewing the cipher telegram, it was concluded in the meeting of the National Security Committee that there was no foreign conspiracy.

Imran allowed to speak with sons

The Special Court (Official Secrets Act) on Wednesday directed the Superintendent of Adiala Jail to allow Mr Khan to make calls to his family members, including his sons.

Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain issued this directive in response to a petition seeking permission for Mr Khan to make calls to his sons.

Earlier, the Punjab Prison authorities informed the court that the convicts of the Official Secrets Act were not entitled to make calls.

However, Mr Khan’s counsel argued that he was not a convict but an under trial prisoner.

In the order, the judge noted that there is no provision in the standard operating procedure for the desired communication through telephone or by other means in cases under the Official Secrets Act.

However, he acknowledged the difficulties faced by Mr Khan’s family and, therefore, issued the directive to the jail superintendent to allow Mr Khan to make calls to his family members.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan puzzle
28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

WHEN it comes to counterterrorism cooperation with the Afghan Taliban, we are moving in circles. While the...
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

WHILE Pakistan has watched many perish in the cauldron of sacrilege, the state has done little to turn down the...
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...
Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...