Monday April 15, 2024

PTI denounces Donald Lu's statement, demands reopening inquiry into cipher saga

Barrister Gohar terms Donald Lu’s remarks on cipher saga as lie, seeks clarification from ex-envoy Asad Majeed

By Web Desk
March 21, 2024
PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan addresses the press conference outside Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on March 21, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News
PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan addresses the press conference outside Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on March 21, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News

As ciphergate came to the limelight, again, after Donald Lu’s testimony before a Congressional panel yesterday (Wednesday), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan termed the US assistant secretary of state’s statement on the diplomatic cable ‘controversy’ a lie, and demanded reopening an inquiry.

“I’ve held a detailed meeting with PTI founder Imran Khan today,” Barrister Gohar said while speaking to journalists outside Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on Thursday.

The politico demands a “clarification statement” from former Pakistani ambassador to the US Muhammad Asad Majeed after Lu’s testimony in which the latter, once again, rejected former prime minister Khan’s allegations that the United States engineered his ouster from power by supporting the then opposition’s no-confidence motion in April 2022.

He went on to say that Majeed had also admitted holding a meeting with the US assistant secretary of state. Barrister Gohar claimed that Pakistan had conveyed a strong demarche to the US over the former envoy’s recommendations who confirmed the veracity of the aforementioned diplomatic cable.

The PTI chief found contradictions in Lu’s statement — in which he rejected the cipher’s content, and his meeting with Majeed — and the past happenings in Pakistan. On the other hand, the former Pakistani diplomat had submitted copy of the diplomatic cable besides confirming the “said meeting”.

However, Gohar clarified that Khan’s sister Aleema Khan sought lodging a case against the US high-up which was a “family decision”.

To a question, the PTI chairman — who took charge of the former ruling party in absence of incarcerated Khan — ruled out impression of any “deal” if the party founder comes out of prison in the coming days.

The statements delivered by Lu before a Congressional panel on Wednesday (yesterday) opened discussions over the cipher saga, again, in which he termed Khan’s “conspiracy theory” a “lie”, and “complete falsehood”

He claimed that the diplomatic cable did not accuse the US government or him personally of taking steps against the former premier.

The cipher controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 — while addressing a public rally waved a letter before the crowd, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation that had conspired with his political rivals to have PTI government overthrown.

He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor did he mention the name of the nation it came from. But a few days later, he accused the United States of conspiring against him and alleged that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Lu had sought his removal.

The cipher was sent by then-Pakistan's ambassador to US Asad Majeed.

On the same occasion while focusing on the 2024 general election in Pakistan, Lu also called for an investigation into the electoral fraud claims, saying that the US is closely monitoring the probe into the rigging allegations. He also mentioned “undue restrictions on freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly” during the February 8 polls.

Lu said the US wanted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold those accountable involved in the election rigging, saying they would encourage the Pakistani government and the poll authority to make the process transparent.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, reacted strongly to Lu’s claims regarding the nationwide polls, and said: “Pakistan values its relationship with the United States, but there were several misunderstandings regarding Pakistan's election laws during the Congressional panel hearing a day earlier.”