PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry lashed out at Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday for claiming the party had approached US official Donald Lu — whom ex-premier Imran Khan accuses of playing a part in his ouster — for forgiveness.
In an appearance on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan a day earlier, Asif claimed the government had obtained evidence that the PTI sought to apologise to Lu, who is the US assistant secretary of state for central and south Asia.
He doubled down on that claim in a tweet, saying that the former ruling party was imploring the US to "forgive and forget and let bygones be bygones".
"If their pleas are accepted, then they will chant 'long live the US'. If not then, they will go back to hurling abuses," the defence minister said. "The formula for [dealing with] institutions inside and outside the country is the same," he added.
Responding to Asif's claim at a press conference in Islamabad, Chaudhry asked Asif whether he had gone deaf when Imran was giving his "policy statement in front of a gathering of tens of thousands of people", referring to the PTI's rally at Parade Ground on Saturday.
"Did you have cotton in your ears that you could not understand what Imran was saying?"
He said that the PTI wanted good relations with all countries but would not allow any country to decide "who would rule Pakistan". "We cannot give this permission. We maintain relations on the basis of equality," he said.
In March, the former premier, while he was still in office, had claimed that the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him was the result of a "foreign conspiracy" because of his external policy, and that funds were channeled from abroad to oust him.
Later, PTI leaders told journalists that they based their claim on a cable that former Pakistani ambassador in Washington sent to Islamabad on March 7, detailing the conspiracy. The cable included details of Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan’s meeting with Lu at the Pakistan Embassy.
Dawn learned from diplomatic sources that the conversation mentioned in the cable happened at a farewell lunch by the outgoing ambassador and that the cable did not say anything about a conspiracy. Lu, however, did convey the Biden administration’s ‘unhappiness’ over the former PM’s visit to Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine.
Lu also said that this ‘unhappiness’ would continue as long as Imran was in power. During the long conversation, Lu also asked questions about the no-confidence movement against the PTI government as this was all over the media.
Mazari says apex court should take notice of 'phone tapping'
At the start of the press conference today, former human rights minister and PTI leader Shireen Mazari talked about the leak of an audio clip wherein Imran's wife, Bushra Bibi, purportedly instructed the party's social media head to run a trend against their political opponents.
Mazari said that only a forensic analysis could prove the authenticity of the alleged clip but said that the real issue was tapping of the phones of party leaders. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that tapping phones during official and private conversations was "unacceptable", she said.
She claimed that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country's premier spy agency, had accepted that 60,000 mobile phones were tapped every month, according to a newspaper report in June.
"Phone tapping is illegal and only intelligence agencies can do it because they have the means and the technical ability. Secondly, there are decisions of the Supreme Court — not once, but again and again. These decisions are valid because no one challenged them."
She also alleged that Imran's home phone was also tapped, adding that the apex court should take notice of the matter.
The PTI leader claimed that such leaks were being carried out by the "neutrals to hide the conspiracy" which led to the ouster of the Imran-led government.
"Look at the timing — they are scared of our rallies so they are diverting [the attention of the] nation because ... [of] loadshedding. Plus, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has given them a condition to reframe their laws on accountability. So they have no place to run."
The "neutrals" believed they could target the families of PTI leaders because they could not find anything against Imran, she claimed.
She also warned the Sharif family to avoid using their "their deep contacts in India" to create trouble on the border in an effort to make the nation forget about this conspiracy.