Tampering with controversial cipher.

ISLAMABAD     -   The federal government has decided to take legal action against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, and his aides over an alleged audio leak with regard to the controversial diplomatic cipher, sent from Washington to the Foreign Office, and tasked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to commence investigation and submit a report with recommendations for further action. The decision was made by the federal cabinet through a circulation summary on the recommendation of the cabinet committee formed on the matter in the last cabinet meeting held a couple of days back. The cabinet committee over the leaked audios met over the weekend and recommended legal action over the audios of former prime minister Imran Khan, then principal secretary Azam Khan and others 1. “This is a matter of national security, which has serious implications for national interests and a legal action in this regard is vital,” recommended the cabinet committee. The cabinet was told that the audios purportedly featuring Imran and his aides exposed “the criminal conspiracy of the former government”, while the cypher was given “fictitious meanings for political mileage and subsequently it was stolen after fraud, forgery, fabrication.” The recommendations of the cabinet committee were presented for approval before the federal cabinet, which was formally approved on Sunday. Official sources confirmed to The Nation that the federal cabinet approved the recommendations that the issue be given to FIA for initiating an official probe and legal action over the audio leak about the controversial cipher against former PM

Imran Khan, his then principal secretary Azam Khan, and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former fed­eral minister for planning Asad Umar.

The official sources said that in order to hold swift investigations, FIA would constitute a probe com­mittee comprising senior officials who have rich ex­perience of handling such cases. FIA is also likely to include senior officers from intelligence agencies in the probe team which would help it in getting timely information.

Pakistan’s former Am­bassador to Washington Dr Asad Majeed Khan is also expected to appear before the committee as he was the author of the cipher which quoted con­versation with US State Department official Don­ald Lu over lunch in Wash­ington in March this year.

The cabinet commit­tee also recommended that legal action in accor­dance with the Official Se­cret Act is necessary to be taken against Imran Khan and his close aides, as it is a matter of national secu­rity which was breached by the former PM while handling the cipher.

In the two audio leaks that took the internet by storm and shocked the public across the country, Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Azam Khan could al­legedly be heard discuss­ing the US cipher and how to use it in their interest.

Imran Khan claims the cipher a conspiracy hatched by US to dislodge his government. However, the Pentagon and the State Department have repeat­edly rejected the accusa­tions, saying there was no veracity to it. The National Security Committee (NSC), which includes all services chiefs as well as the head of Pakistan’s top intelli­gence agency, took up the matter on March 31 with then-premier Imran Khan in the chair. The forum de­cided to issue a “strong de­marche” to a country that it did not name over what it termed as “blatant inter­ference in the internal af­fairs of Pakistan”.