PESHAWAR: An audio tape purportedly linked to Ajmal Khan Wazir led to his sacking as adviser to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister on information and public relations on Saturday.

The action was taken after an audio tape surfaced in which Mr Wazir was talking to an unidentified agent of an advertising agency, demanding kickbacks for release of government advertisements.

In the audio clip, Mr Wazir was allegedly discussing mode of payment of commission with the official of the advertising agency.

Ajmal Wazir was removed from the office under Section 3 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Advisers and Special Assistants to the Chief Minister (Appointment) Act, 1989.

Interestingly, a picture surfaced on social media early in the morning, showing Mr Wazir lying on a bed in a hospital.

Ajmal Wazir can be heard demanding kickbacks for release of govt ads

The former adviser could not be contacted for comment despite efforts.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan directed the authorities concerned to initiate an inquiry against the sacked adviser who had assumed charge of his office in March. The chief minister’s secretariat has directed Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz to initiate a “fact finding inquiry” against the former adviser, said an official letter.

“The Chief Minister has desired to process a case for fact finding inquiry into recently surfaced audio tape of Ajmal Khan Wazir and the matter may be treated as most important and urgent,” said the letter addressed to the chief secretary.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the CM for local government, elections and rural development Kamran Bangash has replaced Mr Wazir as he has been assigned additional portfolio of information and public relations, according to an official notification.

Mr Wazir, who belongs to South Waziristan tribal district, was initially appointed adviser to the CM on merged tribal districts. Later he was given the portfolio of information and public relations. He had joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf a week before general elections in 2018 after quitting the Pakistan Muslim League (Q).

Reacting to the removal of Mr Wazir, Awami National Party spokesperson Samar Haroon Bilour said that the audio leak had exposed corrupt practices of the ruling party. In a statement she said that the audio leak had proved that the leaders of the ruling party were “looting exchequer with both hands”.

She alleged that the ministers and the advisers were receiving kickbacks during pandemic. She said that scandals of several ministers and advisors had already surfaced, adding that scams like Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project and Malam Jabba had led KP to bankruptcy.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2020