The legal wing of the Foreign Office of the Government of Pakistan has warned Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is facing a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, not to share confidential information. The legal wing warned Khan that doing so could lead to serious consequences like a lifelong disqualification from politics.
The legal wing’s advice came two days after Khan reiterated his claims of foreign conspiracy in the country, saying a foreign nation was trying to oust him due to his attempt to make and follow an independent foreign policy. Addressing the people of Pakistan, Khan had claimed that a foreign country — suspected to be the US — had sent a letter to him, saying he needed to step down or his country would face dire consequences.
Khan in soup
The prime minister of Pakistan had sought legal advice from the official legal wing on the Foreign Office cypher wherein he claimed that a foreign country had sent a threatening message through that country’s envoy.
A US official had warned that there could be implications if Prime Minister Imran Khan survived the opposition’s no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.
Later the National Security Committee (NSC) had expressed “grave concern” over the US meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs and decided to lodge a strong protest.
Sources said that the legal wing in its advice held that diplomatic cypher comes under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
It is stated that neither the sender could share it with anyone nor the receiver (PM) could make it public. In case the prime minister shares the diplomatic cypher, then it would be considered a violation of the oath that he had been administered under Article 91(5).
It is further stated that in case of violation of oath, he may be disqualified for life under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
The relevant portion of the oath is, “That, as Prime Minister of Pakistan, I will discharge my duties, and perform my functions, honestly, to the best of my ability, faithfully in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan.
”And that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as Prime Minister, except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as prime minister.”
In the meantime, after he was not permitted to address the people of Pakistan at the first instance when his office had scheduled it, ISI Chief Lt Nadeem Anjum and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had warned him not to name the US in the speech. He defied them when he finally got the opportunity to address the nation, pleading his way to the broadcast.
Khan lying, says US
The US State Department on 30 March said categorically that no US government agency or official had sent a letter to Pakistan on the current political situation in the country, the report said.
“There is no truth to these allegations,” said a State Department spokesperson while responding to questions from DAWN about the alleged letter and US involvement in the no-confidence motion against the PTI government.
According to some diplomatic sources in Washington, the letter could be a diplomatic cable from Washington, drafted by a senior Pakistani diplomat.
“The contents of the letter, apparently, are based on informal discussions between Pakistani and other officials,” the DAWN quoted one diplomatic source as saying.
“The contents, if correct, show a set of friendly officials from various countries indulging in some loud-thinking and probing. Nothing more,” the source added.
The sources said such conversations often happened in capital cities around the world and diplomats often shared the contents of such conversations with authorities in their home countries.
“The purpose behind such cables is to keep your government informed. It’s no sign of a conspiracy against a government or a personality,” another diplomatic source was quoted as saying in the report.