The Concept of Cypher was formally introduced during the Second World War. Cyphers were used mainly for military communication and were mostly encrypted. Then the Diplomatic channels started using the Cyphers for communication. These Cyphers as per the international diplomatic norms are meant to be kept secret. The notion of secrecy at the inter-governmental level is an understood phenomenon and an accepted international norm due to multifarious government to government diplomatic affairs. Moreover, there is a legality attached to the idea of keeping the Cypher secret under the principle of diplomatic immunity of International law.
The allegations of PTI on foreign conspiracy and blaming the foreign office on hiding the cypher has recently been once again debunked by the Foreign Office that had already been officially refuted by honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan, National Security Committee and ISPR. The Supreme Court in its decision on the cypher stated that; “However, despite receiving the cypher on 07.03.2022 the information conveyed in it was neither investigated by the Government nor were its contents alluded to during the sittings of the NA on 28.03.2022 and 31.03.2022. Also the allegations levelled against the members of the opposition parties were not put to them.” It was clearly stated by the honorable court that the previous government of PTI didn’t pursue any inquiry commission on the alleged foreign conspiracy under Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 (“2017 Act”) due to the lack of available evidence. The PTI leadership have rested its entire defense of national security and claims of ‘blatant foreign interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan’ solely on the cypher.
The foreign office dismissed the cypher propaganda by terming it “entirely baseless” that the Cypher Communication received from the Embassy in Washington was ‘hidden’ from the Foreign Minister or Prime Minister. “Such a question simply does not arise. The Foreign Office operates on a professional basis and it would be detrimental to cast aspersions on its working,” the foreign office spokesperson said in a statement.
Furthermore, SC’s decision and foreign office’s stance on the issue is backed by the statements of the National Security Committee and DG ISPR’s official statement. The National Security Committee of the cabinet’s statement on the cypher issue stated; “The NSC, after examining the contents of the communication, reaffirmed the decision of the last NSC meeting. The NSC was again informed by the premier security agencies that they have completed the investigation and found no evidence of any conspiracy.” Director-General of the Public Relations had also clarified the cypher issue and stated; “It was said that neither a conspiracy was hatched nor any evidence was found pertaining to the conspiracy.” He added; “It was an issue of national security, hence, all services chiefs and DG ISI were summoned there [in the NSC meeting]. I am the spokesperson of the services chiefs and I give clarification on their behalf.” It is no secret that due to propaganda done on the foreign conspiracy mantra, Pakistan has faced international embarrassment after the PTI leadership instigated cypher propaganda for political point scoring. It was a cypher telegram, which is an accountable and classified document, whose handling and access are strictly in accordance with the relevant cypher instructions and procedures that were not violated by the PTI leadership as a last ditch attempt to save their falling government and gain political sympathy for future political discourse.
Humais Sheikh is an independent Defence Analyst based in Islamabad. He has completed his Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad.