Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives to sign documents as he submits surety bond over his bails in different cases at an office of Lahore High Court in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
  • Former PM Khan was told by ex-principal secretary not to misuse, leak public document, says interior minister
  • Government claims alleged statement by Khan’s former principal secretary is a chargesheet against him
Ex-Prime Minister Khan

Ex-Prime Minister Khan : In a significant development, former Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to face criminal proceedings under the Official Secrets Act, as announced by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday. This revelation comes shortly after the government claimed that Khan’s ex-principal secretary had confessed to leaking a classified document last year, with the intention of creating a false narrative.

Following his ousting via a parliamentary vote in April 2022, Khan pointed fingers at the Pakistani parties currently in power, as well as Washington, accusing them of colluding to remove him from his position. Both parties vehemently denied these allegations. Central to the controversy was a cipher, stemming from a meeting between then-Pakistani Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed and State Department official Donald Lu. Khan insisted that the cipher provided evidence of a “threatening message” sent by the US envoy to his government.

According to the government led by PM Shehbaz Sharif, Khan’s former principal secretary, Azam Khan, has made a statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the country’s Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). In this statement, Azam Khan reportedly “confessed” that the US cipher conspiracy was a manipulative tactic employed by the ex-prime minister to fabricate a false narrative against the military establishment and his political rivals.

During a media briefing, Minister Sanaullah revealed, “Khan has conspired against the state’s interests, and we will initiate a case against him under the Official Secrets Act for revealing a confidential cipher communication from a diplomatic mission.” He made these remarks in light of recent developments, which followed the Lahore High Court’s decision to lift a stay order that had been preventing the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan’s anti-crime watchdog, from issuing a call-up notice to Khan. The FIA is currently conducting an inquiry into an audio leak associated with the cipher controversy.

As of now, there is no information available regarding Azam Khan’s whereabouts for over a month. Minister Sanaullah did not disclose the name of the magistrate before whom Azam Khan purportedly recorded his statement. However, he confidently affirmed, “I can assure you that the contents of the statement are entirely true, and Azam Khan voluntarily provided it to satisfy his conscience.”

Despite multiple attempts, Arab News was unable to contact Azam Khan to verify this claim.

Highlighting the significance of Azam Khan’s statement, Minister Sanaullah asserted, “It serves as an indictment and charge sheet against the former prime minister. It reveals who conspired against our nation and its institutions, playing a game for personal and political gain while jeopardising our national interests.”

Sanaullah held Imran Khan responsible for triggering an economic crisis in the country and damaging Pakistan’s foreign relations. Referring to the act of making classified documents or information public and then acquiring them illegally, he emphasised that such actions were unlawful. Azam Khan’s statement revealed that the former premier had been warned against misusing the secret document and disclosing it to the public, constituting a clear violation of the Official Secrets Act.

Furthermore, Sanaullah implicated former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the conspiracy and called for his accountability as well.

Regarding the potential arrest of Imran Khan, Sanaullah noted that the FIA was already investigating the cipher issue, and the recent developments would be considered in the probe, along with other cases against the ex-prime minister currently under review by the courts. “While the government leans toward arresting the former prime minister, some argue that he should first be tried and convicted by the court,” Sanaullah explained, adding that law enforcement institutions would decide Khan’s fate based on the new developments in the case.

Arab News’ inquiries regarding the allegations made against Imran Khan have not been responded to by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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