Experts sceptical of Donald Lu's testimony in cypher case

When claiming to be a sovereign country, we must defend that sovereignty: Naveed Hussain

Noman Awan March 22, 2024

Experts have raised serious questions on the testimony given by Donald Lu, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, during the hearing of the cypher issue at the State Department.

Analysts termed Lu's statement as the 'truth of the United States', asserting that there is no doubt about America’s involvement in toppling governments in various countries.

Speaking on the talk show 'Experts' aired on Express News on Thursday, the Chief Editor of Express Tribune Naveed Hussain responded to the moderator Dua Jamil’s question and said: "Donald Lu’s statement was celebrated in Pakistan—particularly by the government, but hasn't it been a trend of the US to topple governments around the world?"

Citing a report from The Washington Post, Hussain underscored that in 2016, the newspaper revealed that the US had tried to change governments in 72 countries during the Cold War, with some of these efforts being successful and others not.

The senior journalist referred to the statement made by former US President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton, in which Bolton admitted that America has been involved in regime change. Hussain questioned why is Pakistan surprised that the United States has not done it before.

The chief editor asserted that the 'cypher' was discussed during the National Security Committee moot. It was stated that the language used in the cypher was against diplomatic protocols, and a demarche was issued. However, the government later said that there was no cypher.

The senior journalist also asked critical questions, arguing that when there was no cypher, what did the government issue the demarche about? How did they sour relations with the US to the extent of protesting by summoning the US ambassador? How is the case of the cypher going against Imran Khan, the former prime minister?

Hussain emphasized, “When claiming to be a sovereign country, we must defend that sovereignty.” He stressed the need for investigation if such allegations arise – and pointed out that when Donald Lu labelled Imran Khan a liar, those present at the State Department countered by calling Lu a liar.

Group Editor of Daily Express Ayaz Khan characterized Lu's testimony as the "Truth of the United States," noting that the entire world knows about "America's history of building and overthrowing governments"

However, Khan highlighted the significance of the cypher case hearing at the State Department despite this well-known pattern.

The group editor anticipated that after the testimony of Lu, "things will go further". He asserted that the conversation that followed Lu’s statement should not be overlooked, as it touched upon topics such as our judiciary, election commission, human rights situation, and concerns about election integrity. He also pointed out that what happened earlier was not a one-time affair; its effects will remain and will have to be dealt with.

“Imran Khan also initially accused the US of conspiring against his government to destabilize but called upon the US to conduct a transparent investigation into the election,” he added.

Express News Bureau Chief in Islamabad Amir Ilyas Rana said he wasn’t surprised by the hearing on the cypher issue at the State Department. Citing hearings of 1991 and 2008, he emphasized that such post-election hearings have occurred in the past as well.

Conversely, the bureau chief criticized Imran and alleged that the current hearing was conducted and taken to such an extent because of a US lobbying firm hired by the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Rana asserted that he critiqued the individuals who spoke in favour of Imran during the hearing at the State Department and maintained that these same people are supporting the bombing of Muslims in Gaza.

"The very people who lecture us on human rights are the ones who prevent us from speaking out against the carpet bombing against Muslims," Rana voiced his criticism.

Chairman Pakistan Ulema-e-Islam Council Allama Tahir Ashrafi expressed his disappointment over the reactions of PTI and the government following the hearing at the State Department. “I am ashamed as a Pakistani at the level to which we have stooped. One party expresses joy over American questioning of our elections, while the other is pleased with labelling the former prime minister as a liar. No good came for anyone, yet we find reasons to celebrate,” Ashrafi said.

Express News Bureau Chief in Lahore Muhammad Ilyas while condemning both Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and PTI, has stated that following Wednesday's statement by Lu, both sides are celebrating without showing concern for Pakistan's interests.

Ilyas echoed concerns about interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, stating that it is not good for Pakistan when outsiders meddle in our internal problems and affairs.


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