“Imran Khan’s Cypher Circus: Unraveling Deceit, Diplomacy, and the Cult of Followers”

DND Thought Center"Imran Khan's Cypher Circus: Unraveling Deceit, Diplomacy, and the Cult of Followers"

By Shazia Anwer Cheema

The former prime minister Imran Khan wants the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and the US Envoy to be summoned by the Special Court that is hearing the Cypher Case Trial at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.


His desire to try a diplomat in the Pakistani court has again exposed that either he is an illiterate person who does not know the international rules of diplomacy or he is still on the path of abusing the minds of his followers. Imran Khan like every other con artist knows the threshold of his followers, he knows that whatever stupidity he is uttering, if it is being bought by his followers, then he is a successful conman. He doesn’t care about Pakistan and its foreign affairs, for him like a circus acrobat the only important thing is that the crowd must be there. So he keeps producing items from his bag filled with deceit and lies and continues creating a show out of it. The only thing that must be taken care of is his fragile ego which only demands fools around him. He has made a circus of the Pakistani state.

The demagoguery of charismatic politicians—A leap from the “Imran Khan Cult” to “Imran Khan Faith”

On Monday, during the hearing of the Cypher Case held at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, Imran demanded the Court to call former Army Chief and US Embassy representatives as witnesses in the trial and he also wants to summon US diplomat Donald Lu as a witness.  It is pertinent to mention that on March 27, 2022, ahead of a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly that resulted in his ouster, the former Prime Minister Imran Khan had pulled out a piece of paper – allegedly the classified cipher – from his pocket and waved it at a public gathering, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government. He kept playing on “international conspiracy” rhetoric till such time the May 9, 2023 mutiny took place, and the national political scene was altogether changed. The amount of damage done to Pakistan at the diplomatic level due to Imran Khan’s cypher propaganda might never had been done in history.

The word cypher has become a buzzword in Pakistani politics since Imran Khan used this diction in his public meetings, where he was establishing his coup de tard conspiracy against himself by the USA. Common man neither had any ideas then nor now what a cypher is. Imran Khan said cypher was a letter written by the USA to Pakistan to topple his government and his followers believed him.

His followers do not possess the knowledge and ability to de-mystify so-called “US coup” attempts and to understand diplomatic correspondence such as cypher. They cannot grasp the idea that a diplomatic communication such as cypher cannot be printed let alone its public display. Hardly anyone among his followers knows that the cypher Imran Khan is talking about was prepared by his Principal Secretary and his then-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The general public thinks that the US wrote a letter to kick Imran Khan out of power but they don’t know that the US does not need any letter to plan any coup de tard anywhere in the world, plus it is highly unlikely that Imran Khan, an apple to the western eye can face such fate. Imran Khan was ousted from office due to a political process and that was the last thing Western powers wanted to happen in Pakistan. Even now maximum lobbying for Imran Khan is being done in the West. West is giving refuge to his anti-state followers and also providing an environment to support him. And he for the domestic consumption selling the act of “I hate America and America hates me because I say no to America”. The general public needs to know that America will hardly find more “Yes Man” than him ever in the future and America knows that. So hate America acrobat is only for his delusional followers because we do have anti-American sentiments in our society but that has nothing to do with “Imran Khan the last savior”.

I have regrets about Imran Khan’s followers, they are simple, delusional folks, and their minds had already been played enough in the course of “making Imran Khan a great leader”. In fact they are victims of that project. It would be unjust to blame them for being irrational and illogical and now acting like zombies. The amount of effort put into the Project Imran has altered their brains and now they are even ready to worship Imran Khan.

Coming back to the cypher fiasco, which was as baseless as anything could be, now Imran Khan has started another chapter of testing the blind following of his zombie followers, he now has asked a US diplomat to be summoned by the court to testify against or for that page “cypher”. I am sure he knows that diplomats cannot be summoned by another country’s court as they have international diplomatic immunity, but his demand can surely serve the purpose of his cult consumption because now we will see social media discussion about truth vs lie. His followers will initiate bizarre arguments like if Imran Khan is wrong then why US diplomats do not prove him in court? It’s a pity that they cannot reason due to the majority of them do not know history, politics, or diplomatic affairs; they just take the bait and swallow it. According to the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Convention Diplomatic and Consular Relations diplomatic immunity is a principle of international law by which certain foreign government officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of local courts and other authorities. The principle of diplomatic immunity is one of the oldest elements of foreign relations.

According to the history of Diplomacy, Greek and Roman governments introduced special status to envoys, and the basic concept has evolved and endured until the present. In the period since World War II, several international conventions (most noteworthy, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations) have been concluded and these conventions have formalized the customary rules and made their application more uniform.

For any rational mind, Imran Khan’s demand of summoning a foreign country diplomat would be a laughable development but for his followers that is going to be another proof of him being a great leader.

Imran Khan’s followers still have no clue that Imran Khan was technically planted by the Western world and placed by internal support. Imran Khan was the last hope to maintain Western hegemony in the region and to block the Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but facts do not matter, his cult followers have been fed enough information about his grandeur and glory, that they even cannot decipher that information was purposefully fed to them to create fools such as they are now. So the cypher and US diplomat will be part of Pakistani politics for a couple of weeks now, PTI followers will tell you farcical stories you have not heard before. The only thing we can do is listen to these stories and pity on storytellers.

I have been writing for half a decade that Imran Khan’s entire politics rests upon dishonesty, U-turns, lies, and deceit hence another lie being exposed does not bother its already tainted reputation but this case had a sorrowful aspect that a senior politician like Shah Mahmood Qureshi and one of the top bureaucrat also became writers of theatrical scenes that further frustrated emotionally vulnerable followers of Imran Khan. Their deceit in their duty harmed Pakistan externally and internally but above all they facilitated the spreading of the lies to which Imran Khan himself is quite prone to his emotionally charged followers. After launching cypher bomb over Pakistan’s foreign relations with global powers, the PTI media started accusing Washington of planning “Regime Change”. Therefore, Imran Khan used genetic ‘anti-Americanism’ and tried to earn the title of Che Guevara of Pakistan and his popular slogan “Absolutely Not” to the United States became his major tool for political publicity. In May 2023, his audio leak appeared on social media in which he was requesting a US congresswoman to lobby for him and demanded her to use her contacts to close down cases of corruption he is facing in his home country. This audio leaked when he was selling “Revolutionary Nationalism” to Pakistani youth.

“Those who engage in deceit and manipulation to serve their interests not only betray the state but also undermine the trust and fabric of society. Their actions demonstrate a disregard for ethical principles and a willingness to sacrifice the well-being of their fellow citizens for personal gain. Such individuals exploit vulnerabilities, sow discord, and manipulate emotions to achieve their selfish objectives. It is a stark reminder that vigilance, integrity, and accountability are crucial in safeguarding the state against the treacherous games played by those who seek to deceive”-–A para copied from an academic conversation.


Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News

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