Days after a leaked audio recording of PTI leaders was released, another one surfaced on Friday purportedly featuring party leaders Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussing the much-touted “threat cipher” with Imran Khan and ex-principal secretary – ratcheting up the controversy around the steady drip of damning leaks allegedly offering a glimpse of the inside story.
The 1.09-minute long audio emerged on social media and featured a conversation purportedly between Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Azam about a strategy to set the stage for a narrative around the Cablegate affair.
The former premier’s voice can be heard, apparently stating that “we have to hold a meeting tomorrow, you and the three of us (Imran, Qureshi and Azam Khan) and the foreign secretary”.
The voice, believed to be of Imran's, instructed that “in the meeting, we have to quietly tell them to write the minutes of the meeting”, adding that Azam Khan had said that the meeting minutes should be drafted and photocopied.
The second voice, supposedly of Azam's, asks if “this cypher arrived on the 7th or 8th,” before saying that “it came on the 8th”.
Imran allegedly replies that the meeting was held on the 7th.
The voice attributed to the PTI chief constantly reiterates that “under no circumstances” should the country where the conspiracy emerged from be named.
“So on this issue please, the country's name should not be spoken by anyone. This is very important”, he can be heard saying.
He emphasised that “the country the letter came from, I don’t want to hear the name from anyone”.
A voice reportedly of Asad Umar then asks if Imran was calling it a letter “deliberately”. “This is not [a] letter, it is the meeting’s transcript,” Asad can be heard saying.
The voice attributed to Imran’s replies that the letter and the transcript were “the same thing”. “People wouldn’t understand transcript. You say things like this in your jalsa.”
Reacting to the latest audio, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry alleged that the purpose of such leaks was to divert attention from the acquittal of Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield case. “We took whatever caution was possible in diplomatic matters,” he said in a tweet.
He said that the name of the country [US] was not revealed until the cabinet declassified the cypher. “The name, however, had to come to light when the cypher had been declassified.”
Meanwhile, Shahbaz Gill pointed out a flaw in the subtitle of the leaked audio, saying that Imran had reportedly asked a person at the other end to note down minutes. “But the subtitle mentions that the minutes of our choice shall be written.”
It is pertinent to note that the latest audio is part of a steady drip of leaks. A 1.43-minute audio clip appeared on social media earlier - allegedly leaked by a hacker - purportedly revealing a conversation between the former prime minister and his principal secretary about using the classified diplomatic cable for political purposes.
“We have to play with this. Don’t take America’s name, just play with this,” the PTI chief allegedly said in the audio clip. To this, a second voice, claimed to be that of Azam, advised him that a meeting be held on the subject first.
“See, if you recall, in that [cypher] the ambassador has written in the end to [send a] demarche,” Azam allegedly responded.
“Even if the demarche is not to be sent, as I have thought a lot about it at night — you [Imran] said they raised it — I thought about how to cover all this,” he added.
Azam allegedly further advised Imran to hold a meeting with then foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the foreign secretary.
“Shah Mahmood Qureshi will read out that letter and whatever he reads out will be converted into a copy. I will then make minutes that the foreign secretary has prepared this,” the voice believed to be that of Azam said.
“But its analysis will have to be conducted here. We will carry out the analysis and convert it into minutes as we want it to become [part of] the office record,” he allegedly added.
Azam purportedly elaborated that they needed to do this so that the matter was on the record.
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