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FIA summons Imran Khan on August 1 in ciphergate case

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An undated image of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP
  • A day earlier, the FIA grilled Imran Khan for nearly two hours.
  • PTI chief is asked to bring relevant documents along with him. 
  • FIA instructs Imran to appear before its probe team at 12 noon.  

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on August 1 in a case related to the diplomatic cable saga — a cipher what the former premier, who was removed from the office in April last year, claimed contains details of a threat made by the United States against his government.

In a public gathering on March 27, 2022, in Islamabad, Imran waved a letter claiming that it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” backed by the US to topple his government.

A day earlier, the FIA grilled the ex-prime minister for nearly two hours and recorded his statement in the case.

In the fresh notice, the investigation agency asked the deposed prime minister to appear before its joint investigation team at 12 noon on Tuesday (August 1). The FIA instructed Imran to appear before the JIT along with the relevant documents.

The PTI chief will be asked follow-up questions related to his recorded statement on July 25, read the notice.

Earlier this week, the federal agency interrogated PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi for nearly two hours in connection with its ongoing probe into the controversial US cipher.

Qureshi appeared before an eight-member team headed by FIA Islamabad Zone Director Rana Abdul Jabbar after it had summoned him — as he is one of the central characters in the cipher saga due to his position as the foreign minister during PTI’s tenure.

Officers from different FIA wings and one grade-19 officer each from three different intelligence institutions were also present during the PTI vice chairman’s interrogation.

The cipher drama took a new turn last week when former premier’s then-principal secretary Azam Khan “recorded” a statement, terming the US cipher a “conspiracy” used by the ex-PM to “manipulate for creating a narrative against establishment and opposition.

Azam, who had been “missing” since last month, recorded his statement under CrPC 164 before a magistrate, sources said.

In response to the development, Imran termed Azam an “honest man” and said he would not accept the statement until he heard the bureaucrat say it himself.

The PTI, however, termed the statement attributed to the ex-principal secretary, on the US cipher conspiracy “unverified”, and said it was a “set of contradictions”.

Cablegate

The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Imran — just days before his ouster — brandished a letter, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which mentioned that his government should be removed from power.

He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor mention the name of the nation that had sent it. But a few days later, he named the United States and said that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal.

The cipher was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed’s meeting with Lu.

The former prime minister, claiming that he was reading contents from the cipher, said that “all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power”.

Then on March 31, the NSC took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the country for its “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.

Later, after his removal, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a meeting of the NSC, which came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher.

Months later, two audio leaks took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these events. The former prime minister, then-federal minister Asad Umar, and Azam could allegedly be heard discussing the US cipher and how to use it in their interest.

On September 30, the federal cabinet took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leaks.

In October, the cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former prime minister and handed over the case to the FIA.

Once the FIA was given the task to probe the matter, it summoned Imran, Umar, and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and secured a stay order from the court.

On July 18, the Lahore High Court recalled the stay order against the call-up notice to Imran by the FIA.

The FIA then again issued summons to Khan, Umar, and Qureshi.



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