ISLAMABAD: Amid speculations that former first lady Bushra Bibi is not aloof from political matters following the leak of an audio clip wherein she purportedly instructed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) social media head Dr Arslan Khalid to run ‘traitor trend’ against political opponents, the PTI leaders have come forward to defend the wife of former prime minister Imran Khan and termed the clip ‘fabricated’.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday, Imran Khan’s Chief of Staff Shahbaz Gill alleged that an “organised campaign” was being run against the former premier and his wife to “defame” the couple.
Mr Gill warned that the members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would not be able to “show their faces” if their video and audio clips were made public.
The PTI leader also criticised the PML-N for its “derogatory remarks” against Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in the past. “Imran Khan, during his speech at the Parade Ground [on Saturday], clearly said that Pakistan cannot survive without the army,” he said, adding that everyone was “aware of the derogatory remarks made by the PML-N leaders against the army chief”.
Gill says ‘organised campaign’ underway to ‘defame’ Imran and his spouse
Similarly, Dr Arslan Khalid also rejected the audio clip, terming it “fictitious”. In a tweet, the PTI leader said the public did not care for these “fabricated videos”. “Recording thousands of calls, editing voices to turn them into custom phone calls and then disseminating them through lifafas — a term used by PTI for journalists critical of its policies — is this the only thing left [to do] now?” Dr Khalid added.
Leaked audio clip
The PTI leaders came to the defence of Bushra Bibi a day after her purported audio clip with Dr Khalid started making rounds on social and mainstream media. In the alleged clip, Bushra Bibi could be heard telling Dr Khalid that Imran Khan had asked him to run trends on social media declaring political opponents ‘traitors’.
As per the clip, Dr Khalid was told to declare “Aleem Khan and others” traitors on social media as they would be speaking against the PTI chief. According to the clip, the former first lady also asked the PTI social media head to raise the issue of ‘cipher’ on social media. She also allegedly asked Dr Khalid to highlight the issue of the government not buying oil from Russia which was akin to “betrayal”.
Dr Khalid was allegedly instructed by Bushra Bibi that these issues should not be hushed down and that trends should be generated to highlight how “Imran Khan and the country were being betrayed”.
In the purported clip, Bushra Bibi also allegedly told Arslan Khalid to link criticism against her and Farah Khan, a friend of the former first lady who flew out of Pakistan in April, with treason. As per the clip, Dr Khalid assured the ex-first lady that the social media team would follow the instructions and label the PTI critics “traitors”.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister and senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif while commenting on the audio clip assailed the PTI leadership. In a tweet, he said Imran Khan’s claim that an American conspiracy was behind his ouster “sank in the audio of begum sahiba”. He said the reality is that they are now begging the US to “forget and forgive” and “let bygones be bygones”. If the request is granted then they would sing praise for US and if not then they would resume calling it names. The minister said this formula remains the same be it handling issues inside the country or abroad.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2022