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Saturday April 20, 2024

Imran can get 14 years in jail in cipher case: law minister

The law minister says the conspiracy did not succeed but damaged national institutions, economy

By Ag Afp & News Desk & Sher Ali Khalti
July 21, 2023
Law Minister and PMLN leader Azam Nazeer Tarar. —The News/File
Law Minister and PMLN leader Azam Nazeer Tarar. —The News/File

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said on Thursday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had compromised the national security and used cipher issue for political gains, which might result in a 14-year prison term.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the minister said: “There is a lot of discussion surrounding the cipher conspiracy. In accordance with the law and Constitution, the cipher case will be resolved.”

He said that baseless narrative on cipher damaged Pakistan’s relations with its friendly country. The minister said that it was no more a secret what the cipher was and how it was played upon. The former prime minister’s plan did not succeed but it damaged the national institutions and economy, he added.

He said that the damage inflicted on the national institutions was heinous in nature. The law minister said the former premier possessed the cipher and never returned it. He said the federal government had referred the matter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), adding that the former PM had challenged the matter in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

He said that at the request of the federal government, the LHC stay order was vacated. The law minister said classified documents cannot be publicised.

Tarar said the FIA has now summoned the PTI leaders, including Imran, to join the investigation on July 25 and added that the federal agency would decide whether to convert the ongoing probe into a criminal investigation.

Tarar said that a merit-based investigation will be held into the cipher case. He further said that misusing diplomatic documents for personal gains can lead to life imprisonment and even harsher punishments.

If a cipher is used for political motives, a sentence of up to 14 years could be imposed. However, he added that if a cipher is misplaced by mistake, a sentence of up to two years may be awarded according to the law.

Tarar said that the former law minister misused the cipher on the floor of the House.

Separately, addressing a press conference, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik said the PTI chairman was guilty of “making public an official secret document” as he exploited the cipher for political point-scoring.

The PTI chairman, he added, in a sheer violation of the Official Secrets Act, waved the cipher in a public meeting in the federal capital and continued the practice across the country. He said the former prime minister would have no escape, even if his principal secretary Azam Khan retracted his confessional statement on that count.

Imran persistently alleged that the United States had conspired against his government and later claimed that the cipher had been misplaced, Musadik said. Is misplacing an official secret document a trivial matter? he questioned.

He said the PTI chief had been claiming that his government was removed due to a US conspiracy, and at the same time was seeking help from Washington. He said the PTI chief had hired a lobbyist in the US who always conspired against the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. “If the US conspires against you, then why have you hired an anti-Pakistan lobbyist there?” the minister asked.

He said receiving ciphers from different countries with objectionable words and calling their ambassadors to protest the same, was a routine matter, but the former prime minister used the US cipher for his political gains.

He said it was just a drama staged by the PTI chairman as his principal secretary Azam Khan admitted in front of a magistrate that the former prime minister had directed him to exploit the cipher solely for political point-scoring.

Sher Ali Khalti adds from Lahore: Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) President Abdul Aleem Khan, meanwhile, said that the conspiracies have been exposed once again, and those who have misled the nation can no longer hide.

While commenting on the confessional statement of Azam Khan, Aleem Khan said: “Now it has become crystal clear that national security was played for specific purposes through the cipher and it was also at risk during the last regime. Therefore, all the characters of this agenda should be brought to book.”

He said that in the past, the Prime Minister’s House was a stronghold of conspiracies and one after another, such acts were done. The IPP president said the statement of the former principal secretary is enough to clarify the facts and now more people will speak about it with new details.

He further said that this confession made it clear that the drama of cipher, which was created for political gains, was a script of one person only and it had now been fully exposed as well.

He said the formation of the IPP is proof that we could not continue with such an anti-national narrative and conspiratorial mindset. Aleem said that the accusations and attacks on the country’s institutions and the state cannot be accepted in any way. “The next elections and the people’s mandate will also be based upon the same narrative as we cannot compromise on national security and solidarity in any way.”