As the controversy regarding the leaked audio continues in Pakistan, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has challenged the coalition government led by Pakistan Muslim League (N) to arrest him.
Addressing a public gathering in Taxila, Punjab on Sunday, the deposed leader said PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz wanted the cypher to disappear in a bid to hide the conspiracy hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif's party.
"This is the movement of real independence and we are ready to face jails. I am ready to go to jail and my nation as well. We are not afraid of jail," he was quoted as saying by The Nation.
The cypher is an alleged secret diplomatic cable which fuelled conspiracy theories that the US administration wanted to topple Imran Khan's government and facilitate regime change in the country.
The cypher is based on then-envoy Asad Majeed's meeting with US State Department official Donald Lu, who has been at the centre of PTI's claim that the US conspired to dislodge Imran from office in April.
During his address, Khan said, "They have started a new drama regarding the disappearance of the cypher while its master copy is in the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Maryam Nawaz can ask her ambassador about it," he added.
While referring to the Pakistan army, he said, "those who could prevent the conspiracy from succeeding, if they call themselves neutral at this time, the nation will never forgive them."
Pakistan's Federal Cabinet has formally given the go-ahead to start legal action against former PM Imran Khan over the recent audio leaks that purportedly featured him and his aides discussing a US cypher.
On Friday, the Pakistan federal cabinet met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair. The cabinet accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief of compromising national interests for political gains.
According to a handout issued after the cabinet meeting, the "theft" of diplomatic cypher records is an "unforgivable crime" and a violation of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
Later on Saturday, Maryam Nawaz called for a raid at the PTI chief's residence to recover the missing copy of the cypher, alleging that Khan conspired to twist a routine diplomatic cable.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court on Sunday approved the pre-arrest bail of Imran Khan and directed him to appear before the court concerned before October 7 in a contempt case.
This comes after an arrest warrant was issued for the former premier in connection with his controversial remarks against Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zeba Chaudhry and other officials at an August 20 public rally. (ANI)