ISLAMABAD: The JIT probing the cipher issue was nearing the conclusion of its findings, but the latest publication of alleged content of the secret cable document in an online American news organisation has forced it to expand its investigation to cover the aspect of the leak to the media.
Informed sources said the JIT is keen to see how and who has leaked the document’s content to the media and whether the content of the cypher, as shared by The Intercept, is original or exaggerated.
These sources hoped that the probe would conclude within a week or 10 days. This correspondent was told that the investigation so far makes a case against former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who is presently in the Attock Jail after having been convicted in the Toshakhana case by an Islamabad district court.
Retention of the cypher copy by the former prime minister, it is said, is an admitted fact. It is an offence, a source said. Twisting and manipulation of the secret document for political gain is also a violation of the law, added the source.
The JIT, which was constituted by the outgoing government of prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, has already interviewed Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Foreign Office officials. It is said that the JIT may not need to interview anyone else.
The most critical part of the JIT probe pertains to the statement of Azam Khan, ex-principal secretary to the former prime minister, who had told the FIA and also stated before a magistrate that the former PM had used the US cypher for his ‘political gains’ and to avert no-confidence motion against him.
The former bureaucrat, in his confession, said when he provided the ex-premier with the cypher, he was “euphoric” and termed the language a “US blunder”. The former prime minister, according to Azam, then said that the cable could be used for “creating a narrative against establishment and opposition”.
Azam Khan said the US cypher was used in political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to him to avoid such acts. Azam Khan said that the former prime minister also told him that the cypher could be used to divert the public’s attention towards “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.