Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that the audio recording of the alleged telephone conversation between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari and property tycoon Malik Riaz had "exposed" PTI Chairman Imran Khan's "hypocrisy and double standards", asserting that his predecessor's "lies stand exposed".
The leaked audio recording — in which the voices were believed by many to be of Zardari and Riaz — was widely reported by the electronic media and shared on social media on Saturday where the latter could be heard telling the PPP chairman that Imran was desperate for a “patch-up” with him.
In a tweet today, PM Shehbaz said that the purported audio tape had "exposed" Imran. "The audio tape that surfaced recently exposes Imran Khan’s hypocrisy and double standards. Contrary to his claims, he sought NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to save himself and his government."
"The fake story of foreign conspiracy was manufactured after all his efforts failed. His lies stand exposed," PM Shehbaz added.
The PML-N's official Twitter account said Imran Khan was "begging opposition leaders for NRO while publicly creating a completely opposite perception". It too, termed it "hypocrisy".
Purported audio recording
In the almost 32-second conversation, the date and time of which is not confirmed, Riaz can be heard telling Zardari that Imran had been sending him messages asking him to help “patch up” with the PPP.
“Today, he (Imran Khan) has sent too many messages,” the voice believed to be of the property tycoon told the former president, who in response says: “It is impossible now.”
“It’s okay. I just wanted to bring this into your notice,” said Riaz’s alleged voice.
There is no official word from Malik Riaz over the development yet.
A Dawn report today said that the PTI immediately declared the audio “fake”. Yesterday, the party's spokesman Dr Shahbaz Gill tweeted that the audio recording was a “lie” and “far from reality”.
"A businessman and an opponent of Imran Khan are talking about things that have nothing to do with reality. Imran Khan does not require an NRO. Instead, all these people kept seeking an NRO (from Imran) which they didn’t get,” he said.
Gill further added: “This story is a lie…. at least, a strong script should have been written.”
Meanwhile, senior PPP leaders said they were not aware of the timing of the purported phone call, but they could confirm that Malik Riaz had been playing the role of a mediator after submission of the no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan in the National Assembly by the then opposition parties.
Another PPP leader, while claiming that the alleged audio seemed genuine, questioned who was tapping the telephones of the former president. He said it was a serious matter and should be probed.