Will take action against Imran Khan over 'cypher' claim: Pak interior minister

By Press Trust of India: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah indicated on Wednesday that the government will take legal action against former premier Imran Khan for the violation of the country’s laws of secrecy, amid resurfacing of the ‘cypher’ controversy.

The cypher issue is linked to the claim made by Khan last year after his ouster from power that he was shown the door under a US conspiracy and he cited a diplomatic cable to bash his opponents.

The controversy resurfaced after Khan’s principal secretary, Azam Khan, who had been missing since last month, suddenly appeared and recorded a statement before the magistrate stating that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief had told him to use secret communication for political purposes.

Interior Minister Sanaullah, responding to the confessions by Azam Khan, said Khan had committed a crime for which he should be “punished at all costs”.

“Making a classified document or a [piece of] information public and then taking it into one’s possession- no person is legally eligible to have it (cypher) in their custody,” he said.

Sanaullah said that action would be taken against him. “The law department’s opinion would be the final [decision] on this, but I think the Official Secrets Act is more relevant [in this case],” the interior minister said.

“Nevertheless, this is a punishable crime- to conspire against the country, expose a secret document and use it for your own interests and to damage the country’s interest and then to steal it, take it in your possession — this is a clear crime under the Official Secrets Act and it should be prosecuted,” he said. “A punishment should be meted out over this and the [cypher] should be recovered,” he said, adding that former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also “fully involved in this crime”.

The minister also likened the case to proceedings initiated against former US president Donald Trump on allegations of mishandling classified documents and said that Azam Khan said that the ex-premier told him that the “cypher had gone missing but my assessment is that he (Imran) still has it”.

“So, the cypher is with him. He has not just committed the crime of making it public, but he continues to be guilty of a crime by keeping it in his possession until he is arrested in this case and the cypher is recovered,” the minister said.

Earlier, Azam Khan confessed in his statement that the PTI chief allegedly told him that the “cypher can be used to divert [the] general public’s attention towards foreign involvement in NCM [no confidence motion] by the opposition”.

Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

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