ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s alleged conversation with principal secretary Azam Khan triggered a firestorm Wednesday in which he can be heard speaking about the "US conspiracy" to topple PTI government.
The new audio is the latest in a series of leaks recently released online featuring meetings that happened at PM House in the last several months.
In the leaked audio, Imran Khan could be heard directing his then principal secretary that they should play with the cypher issue without taking the name of the United States.
“Let’s play with it,” Imran Khan allegedly said in the audio, to which Azam Khan suggested that they should hold a meeting on the US cypher to bring it on record.
Imran Khan: Ok, so now let's just play with it. We don't need to name America. We will just play over it and say that the date was already there.
Azam Khan: Sir, I was thinking...that we should hold a meeting on this cypher issue. If you might remember, the ambassador mentioned at the last of the letter that we should issue a demarche. If you still don't want to issue a demarche, because I thought over it last night….how can we cover this? Let's call a meeting of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary (Sohail Mahmood). There, we will ask Shah Mahmood Qureshi to read out the letter. So whatever he will tell us, I will type it down and convert it into [meeting] minutes that the foreign minister said this and the foreign secretary said this. After this, we will write the analysis as we deem fit, so it becomes part of the record. In the analysis, we will say that the language used [in the letter] in diplomatic norms is considered a threat …….and things like that. See, the minutes [of the meeting] are in my hand, we can draft them according to our wishes.
Imran Khan: So whom should we call in this meeting? Shah Mahmood [foreign minister], you [Azam], I [Imran], and Sohail [foreign secretary].
Azam Khan: [Yes,] that's it.
Imran Khan: Alright then, let's hold this meeting tomorrow.
Azam Khan: [So see, if we do this] then things will come on record. Right now, he is consulate for the state [sic] and when he will read it out, I will copy them easily so it will become part of the record. You should also call the foreign secretary so that this thing can be highlighted at the bureaucratic level, not just the political one. You understand what I'm saying.
Imran Khan: The ambassador wrote it himself
Azam Khan: we don’t have the copy right now. How did they take it [cable] out?
Imran Khan: This was raised from here. He did it. But anyhow, it's a foreign conspiracy.
Responding to the explosive development, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry did not deny the contents of the conversation and said the new audio leak only confirmed that an attempt was made to hide the US cable from the former premier.
He was referring to Azam Khan's comments where he said they [PM Office] did not get the copy of the cypher. At this, Imran Khan responded by saying, "this was raised from here".
Another PTI leader and former minister Hammad Azhar commented on the matter, demanding the release of the cypher.
“When Imran Khan was PM, his govt was removed following the exact same script as was given in the cypher. Let that sink in. I think the cipher should be released now and the people of Pakistan should decide whether it was a conspiracy or even more than that.”
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said the alleged audio reveals that Imran Khan planned on extracting the contents of the cypher that would suit him best.
"If there was actually a conspiracy, then why was Imran Khan planning on 'playing' with it?" Rehman asked.
PML-N senior leader Pervez Rasheed said the audio proves that it was no one other than Khan who was involved in a "conspiracy" against Pakistan.
Rasheed reprimanded PTI for misleading Pakistanis, undermining their confidence in national security, and ruining Pakistan's relations with the United States.
Reacting to the audio leak, ANP’s leader Zahid Khan demanded punishment for those who leaked the alleged telephonic conversation between Imran Khan and Azam Khan.
Noting that the government employees are the servants of the state, the ANP leader said that Azam Khan and the foreign secretary should be penalized. “Those who recorded the audio should also be given punishment,” he added.
“Such audio leaks do not appear anywhere in the world,” remarked Zahid Khan.
He also held politicians responsible for it, saying, “No institution could intervene if politicians were fair.”
He said that politicians pull each other's legs for power.
Interestingly, the ex-prime minister's audio clip surfaced following multiple audio leaks of the ruling PML-N leaders from the PM House. On September 25, an audio clip involving a meeting chaired by PM Shahbaz Sharif and attended by the top PML-N leadership at the PM House leaked online.
Earlier, an audio leak allegedly featuring PM Shahbaz Sharif and containing a conversation about PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's son-in-law has gone viral on social media.
Irked by the leaks, a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) would be held with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the chair on Wednesday (today) afternoon.
The development has put a question mark on the cyber security of the PM House and the steps taken to ensure data safety.
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