Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, currently serving a three-year jail term following a conviction in a corruption case, faced further scrutiny as he was interrogated by the counter-terrorism officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inside Attock Jail. The interrogation was related to a missing confidential diplomatic cable, which Khan admitted to misplacing during the inquiry. The incident has added another layer of complexity to his legal troubles and has revived discussions about his claims of a US-backed conspiracy to topple his government.
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The Lost Cable and Alleged Conspiracy
The cable in question was initially brandished by Khan himself as evidence of a US-backed plot to oust him from power. Khan had waved the document during a public rally prior to his removal as prime minister in April 2022, claiming it held proof of a foreign conspiracy against his leadership. However, the investigative agencies now allege Khan of violating the Official Secrets Act by misusing the classified document.
Interrogation Inside Attock Jail
On Saturday, a team from the FIA’s counter-terrorism wing entered Attock Jail to question Khan about the missing diplomatic cable. The team, led by FIA Deputy Director Ayaz Khan, engaged in a rigorous interrogation that lasted over an hour. During this session, Khan admitted to losing the cypher, though he couldn’t recall its whereabouts. He also clarified that the document he had waved during the rally was not the missing cypher but Cabinet meeting minutes.
Unfolding of the Missing Cypher Case
The investigation into the missing diplomatic cable has been ongoing for some time, and Khan’s recent interrogation follows the arrest of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former foreign minister and a close aide to Khan. The FIA had filed a case against both Khan and Qureshi after finding evidence of their alleged involvement in the misuse and misplacement of the confidential document. Additionally, the investigation is poised to scrutinize the roles of other associates, including Khan’s principal secretary, Azam Khan, and former planning minister Asad Umar.
US Allegations and Denials
Khan’s claims of a US-backed conspiracy have long been a point of contention. He alleges that the US was orchestrating efforts to remove him from power due to his neutral stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These claims, however, have been categorically denied by US officials on multiple occasions. The alleged diplomatic cable, which purportedly contained evidence of this conspiracy, remains a focal point of the investigation.
Authenticity of the Document
The investigative process has been complicated by the authenticity of the document. The alleged cable, published by the US media outlet The Intercept, suggested that the US State Department was encouraging the Pakistani government to remove Khan from power. However, independent verification of the document has been challenging due to the sensitive security climate in Pakistan. The US State Department itself has stated its inability to verify the document’s authenticity.
Impact on Imran Khan’s Legal Standing
The admission of misplacing the diplomatic cable could potentially have legal ramifications for Khan under the Official Secrets Act. While Khan is currently serving time for a corruption case, this latest development may further complicate his legal situation. Analysts speculate that if his sentence in the corruption case is suspended, he could potentially face arrest by the FIA in connection to the cypher case.
Imran Khan’s admission during the interrogation has added new dimensions to the ongoing legal proceedings against him. The missing cypher, once a symbol of his allegations against foreign conspiracies, has now become a central piece of evidence in a case that could have significant implications for his political future.
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