‘Let’s play with it’: Audio exposes Imran’s foreign conspiracy narrative

The clip making rounds on social media apparently features a conversation between Imran and Azam Khan on a cipher

By Mumtaz Alvi & News Desk
September 29, 2022
This illustration shows a screengrab taken from an alleged audio clip featuring former prime minister Imran Khan and then-principal secretary Azam Khan. — Twitter

ISLAMABAD: An audio conversation purportedly between then prime minister Imran Khan and his principal secretary Azam Khan on a cipher has exposed his conspiracy narrative and triggered a new debate.

Following the release of a set of audio clips between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other decision-makers in the incumbent government, this clip has further added to the already-murky political scene.

The clip making rounds on social media apparently features a conversation between Imran and Azam Khan on a cipher, which the former has been presenting since March this year as an evidence of ‘a foreign conspiracy’ behind his ouster as premier.

It is interesting to note that this development came hours before a key meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) was scheduled to be held on informal conversations in the Prime Minister’s Office following their leak the other day.

In the audio clip, Imran is purportedly heard saying: “We only have to play on this. We don’t have to name (any country). We only have to play with this, that this date was before. The new thing that will emerge is that the letter ….” Then, the second voice, believed to be of Azam, is heard, suggesting to Imran to hold a meeting on the cipher.

“See, if you recall, in that the ambassador has written in the end to (send) a demarche. Even if the demarche is not to be sent; I have thought a lot about it at night — you said they raised it — I thought about how to cover all this,” he says.

He says: “Let’s hold a meeting with Shah Mahmood Qureshi (who was the foreign minister in PTI-led government) and foreign secretary. Shah Mahmood Qureshi will read out that letter and whatever he reads out will be converted into a copy. I will then make minutes that the foreign secretary has prepared this.

“But it’s (cipher’s) analysis will have to be conducted here. We will carry out the analysis and convert it into minutes as we want so that it becomes the office record,” Azam says and then elaborates that the analysis would conclude that it is an indirect threat: “It is called a threat in diplomatic language.”

Azam purportedly adds that “minutes are in my hands … we will draft the minutes.” Here, purportedly Imran is heard asking who would be called to the meeting: “Shah Mahmood, you, me and Sohail.”

Just these, the other person says. “We will do it tomorrow,” the person believed to be Imran replies. In turn, the voice, supposedly of Azam, is heard explaining that following this plan, “things will become a part of the record. Consider that he is the consulate for the state. When he will read it out, I will easily copy it and it will be on record that this has happened.”

Moreover, he suggests that “you (supposedly Imran) call the foreign secretary so that it doesn’t remain political and becomes a part of the bureaucratic record.” To this, the man believed to be Imran points out that an ambassador has written the cipher, implying that it should already be a part of the bureaucratic record since it has been written by an envoy.

“But we don’t have a copy of it. How did they release it?” the person on the other end is heard replying to Imran. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the government will conduct a forensic audit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s leaked audios.

Following the leaked audio, Sanaullah — during a press conference in Islamabad — said that if Khan’s audio is real, then he should be exposed before the nation. “Khan has created the narrative of an American conspiracy to mislead the nation and divide it,” he added.

Criticising the PTI chief, the interior minister said that Khan has caused “irreparable damage to Pakistan and destroyed the country’s economy and political culture.” “I will show students Imran Khan’s awful face,” said Sanaullah with reference to a university lecture that Khan delivered, adding that this “political fitna” has to be ended in a political way.

The PMLN leader said that the audio talks about changing the minutes of government meetings. “This player is playing with the nation and is working on a specific agenda,” he added. Sanaullah also said that Khan’s political narrative will be exposed.