- During the conversation, man, believed to be former prime minister Imran Khan, is heard saying 'let's play with' the cipher
As the political climate continues to be rattled, another audio clip was leaked on Wednesday, this time purportedly of a conversation between former prime minister Imran Khan and his then principal secretary Azam Khan. During the conversation, the voice, said to be of the former premier, can be heard saying "let's play with the cipher and turn it into a foreign conspiracy".
Imran has long argued and blamed a "foreign conspiracy" for his ouster through a no-confidence vote in April, singling out the US as the chief conspirator. Washington has denied the claims.
The opposition, now part of the coalition government, has also denied the claims and said its plan to move the no-confidence vote was motivated by rising inflation and economic mismanagement.
In the conversation leaked on Wednesday, which seems to have taken place while Imran Khan held the PM’s office, the voice, believed to be of Imran, can be heard saying “we need to play with it without mentioning any country”.
He was referring to the cipher received from a foreign country.
In response, the person believed to be Azam recommends calling a meeting with then foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood.
“See, if you recall, the ambassador has written in the end to [send] a demarche. Even if the demarche is not to be sent, as I have thought a lot about it at night — you said they raised it — I thought about how to cover all this," the voice, said to be of Azam, says.
“[In the meeting], we will ask Shah Mahmood Qureshi to read out the letter. I will type whatever he tells us and convert it into [meeting] minutes,” the voice, purportedly of Azam, advised.
Imran asks if the meeting participants should include just him, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Azam Khan and Sohail Mahmood. To this, Azam agrees.
Imran then decides to hold the meeting the next day.
“[Through the meeting], things will come on record. Right now, this is consulate photostat and when he will read them out, I will copy them easily so it will become part of the record,” Azam states.
“You should also call the foreign secretary so that this thing can be highlighted at the bureaucratic level, not just the political one. You understand what I'm saying.”
“After this, we will write the analysis as we deem fit, so it becomes part of the record. In the analysis, we will say that the language used [in the letter] — in line with diplomatic norms — is termed a threat. The minutes are in my hand, we can draft them according to our wishes.”
The other person, purportedly Imran, then seemingly agrees to the meeting and expresses the wish to turn the cipher "into a conspiracy”.
Imran responds to leak
While responding to the leaked conversation, Imran said that PM Shehbaz Sharif’s team released it and termed it a “good action”.
“I want the cipher to be leaked so people can see a clear picture and realise the extent of the foreign conspiracy,” he said.
When inquired about the meaning of “let’s play with it”, Imran said he was due to “begin playing.”
“I haven’t started playing. Now that they have tried to expose me, I will begin playing.”
A number of audio recordings have been leaked over the past few days.
The first set was made public on September 24, which allegedly involved a discussion between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and one of his advisers.
Another clip purportedly involved a conversation between PML-N Vice President Maryam and the premier about former finance minister Miftah Ismail.
In response to the development, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif termed the audio leaks a “serious lapse”, which has “put the country’s prestige at stake”, and announced that a high-powered committee will thoroughly investigate the matter.