Full Text Of Mysterious Cipher Leaked; Alleged US And Donald Lu's Role In VONC Exposed

Full Text Of Mysterious Cipher Leaked; Alleged US And Donald Lu's Role In VONC Exposed
Nearly 16 months after former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was pushed out of Parliament through a no-confidence motion while crying hoarse about a 'conspiracy' from the US, the full text of the diplomatic cable that has become known as the "cipher," was leaked on Wednesday, confirming at least that the American cold shoulder towards Imran was due to a domestic political situation in Islamabad far beyond the vote.

The body of the cable -- which had been sent by Pakistan's then-Ambassador to the US and current Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, after he met with the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Les Viguerie - was reproduced by the independent publication, The Intercept.

The Intercept stated that the confidential cable was provided with the secret document by a source "who had access to the document as a member of the military." The source added that they had no ties to Imran Khan or his party.

The source reportedly spoke of their "growing disillusionment with the country's military leadership, the impact on the military's morale following its involvement in the political fight against Imran Khan, the exploitation of the memory of dead service members for political purposes in recent military propaganda, and widespread public disenchantment with the armed forces amid the crackdown. The source believed that the military was pushing Pakistan toward a crisis similar to the one in 1971 that led to the secession of Bangladesh."

Read More: Cipher Strikes Again

The source added that they hoped the leaked document would "finally confirm what ordinary people, as well as the rank and file of the armed forces, had long suspected about the Pakistani military and force a reckoning within the institution."

The cable is deemed highly confidential and a state secret covered under the Official Secrets Act. It is stored within the Foreign Office, and limited 'view-only' copies are created and distributed among those authorised to see it, including the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff. The copies are then supposed to be returned to the Foreign Office for safekeeping.

The contents of the cipher

The diplomatic cable is an account of a meeting between Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu and the-then Ambassador to the US and now Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, and authored by the latter.

According to the text of the cable published by The Intercept, Donald Lu stated early on in the meeting that "people here and in Europe are quite concerned about why Pakistan is taking such an aggressively neutral position (on Ukraine).. it does not seem such a neutral stand to us."

Lu is then quoted as saying "honestly I think isolation of the Prime Minister will become very strong from Europe and the United States."

The cable also quotes Donald Lu as suggesting that the ouster of Imran Khan through the no-confidence vote would restore normal bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan: "I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington because the Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister. Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead.”

Dr. Asad Majeed Khan claims that he relayed concerns over the reluctance of the Biden administration to engage with Pakistan, which had fueled a perception that Pakistan was being "taken for granted. There was also a feeling that while the US expected Pakistan's support on all issues that were important to the US, it did not reciprocate..."

The cable quotes Lu suggesting that Imran Khan's visit to Moscow on the eve of the Russian attack on Ukraine had "already created a dent in our relationship from our perspective."

Lu follows this up with an allusion to the vote of no-confidence, and is quoted as saying "let us wait for a few days to see whether the political situation changes, which would mean that we would not have a big disagreement about this issue and the dent would go away very quickly."

The cable concludes with the Ambassador's assessment that Donald Lu would not have made such strong statements about Pakistan's internal political process without the express approval of the White House.

US watching situation in Pakistan 'with concern'

Meanwhile, the US on Wednesday said that it was watching the developing situation in Pakistan, particularly the prospect of election violence, 'with concern.'

"We're obviously concerned about any actions -- particularly violent actions -- that can contribute to instability in Pakistan or, frankly, any other country with whom we share a set of common interests when it comes to counterterrorism," said Admiral John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

"So we're watching it with concern, of course," he told reporters after being asked about the prospect of violent extremists taking advantage of political turmoil in Pakistan and with polls on the horizon.

The comments come as the Parliament and the elected government complete their tenure and will transition to an interim set up before elections, which appear delayed and the recent sentencing of former prime minister Imran Khan intensifying an already tense political environment.