Cipher case: Azam Khan prosecution witness, not approver, against Imran

Ansar Abbasi
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Azam Khan, the former principal secretary of ex-prime minister Imran Khan, has not become an approver but will be a prosecution witness against the PTI chairman in the cipher case.

During the last PDM government, the impression was given as if the key bureaucratic aide of Imran Khan during his premiership had become an approver. Informed sources said that Azam Khan is not the approver but an important prosecution witness, who has already recorded his statement under Section 164 of CrPC.

The FIR, registered in the cipher case by the FIA, nominates Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi as accused. The FIR though also included the names of Asad Umar and Azam Khan, their involvement in the case as accused was subject to the outcome of evidence against them during the investigations.

Azam, who had gone missing for some time, made headlines in mid-July this year after he had accused the ex-prime minister of using the US cipher to create a false narrative against the establishment and the-then opposition.

According to Azam’s statement, on March 8, 2022, the then foreign secretary approached him and informed him of the cipher, which was sent to his residence later that evening. Khan said the foreign secretary told him that then foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had already discussed the cipher with the PTI chief. This was confirmed the next day when Azam Khan presented the diplomatic cable to the former prime minister.

Azam Khan alleged that Imran Khan had used the cipher to manipulate the public’s attention towards foreign involvement in the no-confidence motion by the opposition.

He claimed that Imran told him he would display the cipher in a public rally and “twist the narrative that a foreign conspiracy is being hatched in collusion with the establishment and opposition’s no-confidence motion to play the victim card”. Azam Khan had said that he had given the cipher copy to Imran Khan but the document was never returned and he was told that it was lost.

Sources told The News that Imran Khan in his statement during the interrogation by JIT on the cipher issue, said that he had asked his military secretary to inquire into the missing of the secret document.

A couple of days later, Imran, according to the sources told the JIT, the military secretary had told the then premier that the document was not found. The JIT, however, did not find any written direction in this regard to the military secretary.

During the trial of Toshakhana case in a sessions court in Islamabad, Imran Khan in his statement said that he had sold the gifts he received through his military secretary. He said that the military secretary was an important and relevant character in the case. “I request the court to call him to record his statement in the case,” Khan was quoted by the media as telling the court. However, neither he nor his legal team later insisted on calling the military secretary in the witness box. Instead the four witnesses, whom Imran Khan wanted to present in his defence but was denied by the court, also did not include the name of the military secretary.