ISLAMABAD: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was nearing the conclusion of its inquiry into the cipher issue. However, due to the recent release of alleged content from a classified cable document by an American news organization online, the JIT has been compelled to expand its investigation to encompass the leak to the media.
Reliable sources have indicated that the JIT is eager to ascertain the source and method of the document’s leakage to the media. They are also investigating the authenticity of the cipher content as presented by The Intercept, questioning whether it is unaltered or exaggerated.
It is anticipated that the investigation will reach its culmination within a span of approximately one to two weeks. Information obtained thus far from the investigation reportedly incriminates former Prime Minister and current PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, who is presently incarcerated in Attock Jail subsequent to his conviction in the Toshakhana case by an Islamabad district court.
The confirmed possession of the cipher copy by the former prime minister is acknowledged, and this act is deemed a violation of the law. Additionally, manipulating and distorting the confidential document for political advantage is considered a transgression.
Constituted by the outgoing administration of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the JIT has already conducted interviews with individuals including Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, and officials from the Foreign Office.
It is speculated that further interviews may not be necessary for the JIT’s inquiry.
Of utmost significance in the JIT’s investigation is the testimony of Azam Khan, former principal secretary to the ex-prime minister. Azam Khan had informed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and a magistrate that the former prime minister employed the US cipher for his personal political advantage and to counter potential no-confidence motions.
According to Azam Khan’s confession, the ex-premier was enthusiastic upon receiving the cipher and referred to its wording as a “US blunder.” The former prime minister allegedly indicated that the cable could be utilized to construct a narrative against the establishment and the opposition.
Azam Khan asserted that the PTI chairman, Imran Khan, employed the US cipher during political gatherings, disregarding Azam Khan’s counsel to abstain from such actions. Furthermore, Azam Khan claimed that the former prime minister informed him that the cipher could be exploited to divert public attention toward supposed “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.
Imran Khan had appeared before the JIT in the preceding month. Subsequently, he was summoned again on August 1 to participate in further inquiry by the FIA probe team. However, the PTI chairman declined to partake in additional questioning concerning the matter.
Former Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah categorized Azam Khan’s statement as a “confession” and a formal indictment against Imran Khan. While Imran Khan had maintained that he had misplaced the cipher, Rana Sanaullah held the view that the confidential document remains in the possession of the PTI chairman.
The Interior Minister under Shehbaz Sharif’s administration advocated for the prosecution of Imran Khan under the Official Secrets Act. This is based on the allegation that Imran Khan had divulged a classified document, exploiting it for his personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing the nation’s interests and unlawfully taking it into his possession.