Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): Pakistan's Federal Cabinet has formally given the go-ahead to start legal action against former Prime Minister Imran Khan over the recent audio leaks that purportedly featured him and his aides discussing a US cypher.
The federal cabinet met Friday with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair. The cabinet accused Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief, of compromising vital national interests for political gains, Geo News reported Sunday. A handout issued after a meeting of the cabinet declared that the "theft" of diplomatic cypher records is an "unforgivable crime" and a violation of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
"Vital national interests were damaged by giving concocted meanings to the diplomatic cypher for political gains and the cable was stolen after fraud, forgery and fabrication," the federal cabinet noted.
"It was the act of unpardonable crime against the state through which political interests were given priority over the vital national interests," it observed.
The cabinet formed a committee and recommended legal action over the audio leaks. "This is a matter of national security, which has serious implications for national interests and a legal action in this regard is vital," the cabinet noted.
According to the report, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will probe the matter.
The federal cabinet met after it was informed about the missing copy of the diplomatic cypher from the PM House record. On Wednesday, audios purportedly featuring Khan were leaked in which he was reportedly talking to one of his aides about a US cypher and how to use it. The PTI chief reportedly told his aide to "play with" the cypher and turn it into a foreign plot to oust his government.
The aide, said to be then-principle secretary Azam Khan, is then heard advising Imran Khan to hold a meeting with Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood to bring this on record by faking the meeting minutes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Saturday called for a raid at Imran Khan's residence to recover the missing copy of the cypher, alleging that Khan conspired to twist a routine diplomatic cable for political gains, ARY News reported.
Cypher is an alleged secret diplomatic cable which fuelled conspiracy theories that the US wanted to topple former Imran Khan's government and facilitate regime change in Pakistan.
The cypher, based on then-envoy Asad Majeed's meeting with State Department official Donald Lu, has been at the centre of PTI's claim that the US conspired with elements within Pakistan to dislodge Imran from office.