ISLAMABAD: The government’s spokesperson again mentioned the alleged corruption of the former first lady while on Monday referring to a leaked audio conversation purported to be involving a prominent real estate builder of the country, and said luxuries were enjoyed while depriving ordinary citizens of even basic needs.
However, Malik Riaz Hussain, the chairman of Bahria Town, has denied his role in any political matters, and in a tweet claimed the leaked audio clip attributed to him and his daughter was “fabricated”.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, in a news conference here, also slammed the rightwing ruling party in India for its disrespect towards other religions as well as the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Talking about the latest leaked audio clip, she said power and authority was misused to achieve personal benefits.
Property tycoon terms purported audio conversation fake, vows to take legal action
“We all heard in the audio leak with whom madam Farah Gogi was dealing — that Bushra Bibi does not like a three-karat diamond ring and if a certain job was done it is essential to gift her a five-karat one,” Ms Aurangzeb said.
The clip was believed to be a telephone conversation between Malik Riaz and his daughter wherein the two could be heard talking about the supposed demands of Farah against some favours from the previous government of Imran Khan. The woman, believed to be Mr Riaz’s daughter, tells her father that Farah had told her that the (former) first lady had asked her not to accept a three-karat diamond ring and demanded a five-karat one.
Farah is currently in the UAE. The National Accountability Bureau Lahore has also launched an investigation against her for accumulating assets beyond means.
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also asked Ms Khan on Monday to return to the country and face the law.
The information minister added that the issue was not limited to a ring or wrist watch from the Toshakhana, but it was clear that authority was misused in Punjab and on the federal level for personal gains. She said the entire money trail would lead to Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi and Farah Gogi, whether it was related to transfers and posting, development projects, government affairs, foreign funding, wheat flour, sugar, “everything would end up at Banigala”.
“On the other hand, ordinary citizens continued to slide into poverty,” she maintained, adding, “This matter is related to the masses, but they (the previous government) continued to hurl false accusations at their political opponents.”
The minister claimed the general public must understand that all this rhetoric about an imported government, international conspiracy to oust the government, state of Madina and corruption was only meant to divert attention.
“They want fresh elections, so the best thing would be to go to the speaker of the National Assembly and resign, instead of continuing to enjoy all the perks and benefits of being an MNA,” she asserted, taunting that it was shameful that the value of national interest was only a five-karat ring, smuggled flour and manipulated sugar rates.
“They have such a bankrupt mindset that they went to the court against government advertisements about 75 years of the Turkey- Pakistan friendship – but what did you do? Annoyed and kicked out investors from China, Turkey and damaged relations with friends like Saudi Arabia, derailed CPEC,” Ms Aurangzeb continued, adding, “This was only due to the enmity with Shehbaz Sharif.”
Meanwhile, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz has disassociated himself from any audio clip running in the mainstream and social media.
On Monday, he tweeted, “With latest technologies as deep fake, fabricating an audio conversation shouldn’t be a surprise. The audio associated with me on social media is obviously a product of this technology. I don’t wish to be involved in political campaigns of any party, but the most appalling fact is that my voice and reference is being misused to settle personal and political scores.
I absolutely detest these continuous attacks on me, now involving my family too. I intend to pursue this matter legally too and will be using all possible legal forums to find people behind this conspiracy against me. Anyone found to be the originator and facilitators in spreading fake material will be taken to task.”
‘Headquarters of corruption’
The same day, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz asked Farah Gogi/Khan/Shehzadi, whom she called the “front person” of former first lady Bushra Bibi, to return to the country and face the law like she did.
“Farah Gogi has fled from the country. If she has the courage she should return and face the courts like me,” Ms Nawaz said while addressing the party’s social media team in Lahore on Monday.
She said Banigala (the residence of ousted premier Imran Khan) was the “headquarters of corruption”. Farah Gogi was a “front person” for both Imran and his wife as they were direct beneficiaries of her corruption, she alleged.
Talking about an audio clip believed to be involving Malik Riaz and his daughter, Ms Nawaz said it could be heard that the former first lady had demanded a five-karat diamond ring.
Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2022