ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday said the recent leaks of audio clips featuring discussions between key government members, including himself, PM Shehbaz Sharif and others, were a “massive security breach.”
A slew of audio clips, a couple featuring Khan himself, leaked online earlier this week, creating a political storm in the South Asian country. The latest audio clip emerged on Friday featuring Khan, his then principal secretary Azam Khan and two top aides, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar.
The discussion revolved around a controversial cypher, based on a meeting between then Pakistani ambassador to the US Asad Majeed and State Department official Donald Lu, that Khan has used as a basis to accuse his opponents of ousting him via a Washington-backed “foreign conspiracy.”
“Who and what are behind this, I do not know,” Khan said in an interview aired on Pakistan’s ARY News channel Saturday night.
“I do know that this is a massive security breach. Think about it, the conversations that took place on the prime minister’s secure line became public.”
Khan said the conversations must have taken place over the phone.
“I haven’t heard the second audio clip, so I can’t comment on it,” he said, referring to the audio leak that involved Umar and Qureshi with him.
“But obviously, if there are three to four people [in the conversation] then there would have to be a microphone [hidden] in the room.”
Khan believed someone was tapping the secure line to the prime minister’s office and it got hacked.
On Saturday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Khan’s then principal secretary had admitted to handing the cypher to Khan.
PM Sharif’s government on Friday said the cypher was “missing” from the records of the PM’s office.
“I had [one copy] of it [the cypher] and it… went missing or what happened to it, I don’t know,” Khan told the anchorperson.
He said another copy of the cypher was sent to President Arif Alvi, who had forwarded it to Pakistan’s chief justice.
The ex-premier said one more copy of the diplomatic cable was sent from the foreign office to the then National Assembly speaker, who had invited the opposition to study its contents.
“So, the cypher is available,” Khan said.
“We didn’t make it public because there is a secret code and as soon as you make it public, the foreign office’s secret code becomes public. That’s why we didn’t do it.”
About his plans to hold an anti-government march, Khan said his party would “give an idea” about their next course of action after seven days.
When asked whether Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi would support Khan’s march, he said, “Yes, he is our ally. He will be with us.”