LAHORE: The PML-N and PPP on Monday chided the PTI for what they called its ‘anti-state’ action to sabotage the IMF programme, hours after an alleged audio leak of former finance minister Shaukat Tarin surfaced and was widely covered in the media.

“PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin’s purported audio leak in which he was asking Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa finance ministers Mohsin Leg­hari and Taimur Khan Jhagra, resp­ectively, to not sign the IMF progr­am­­me has exposed the PTI’s conspiracy against the country,” PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz said in a statement on Monday.

The PPP accused PTI of hatching a conspiracy against the state by planning to refuse to surrender the surplus budgets of Punjab and KP to the federal government, thus endangering the government’s agreement with the IMF for the release of next tranche of its loan.

Reacting to the allegations, the PTI insisted that there was nothing wrong in the leaked conversations.

N-League women workers, lawmakers hold protest; Asad Umar says ‘nothing wrong’ in leaked conversations

Hamza Shehbaz said the IMF programme was “very much essential” for the country’s economy. “Those conspiring against this programme are not sincere with Pakistan,” he said, adding that during the tenure of former prime minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s relations with all friendly countries turned sour. “This man [Imran] is busy in doing politics even at a time when the country is hugely impacted by floods,” he lambasted.

PML-N’s Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari said that after this audio leak there was no doubt that the PTI was treading on the path of anti-state. She said the PTI wanted to make this country bankrupt. “Imran Khan is trying to create a Sri Lanka-like situation, but the PML-N and its allies will not let Imran and PTI succeed in conspiracies,” she said.

Meanwhile, some PML-N women workers and lawmakers held a demonstration outside Lahore Press Club to condemn the PTI for “sabotaging the IMF deal”.

Governor rule

Separately, PPP’s central Punjab information secretary Shehzad Saeed Cheema said the leaked audio “is an open conspiracy against the state”. He said the judiciary and other state institutions should take immediate notice of the conspiracy.

The PPP leader warned that if the PTI-led provincial governments attempted to spoil the IMF agreement by refusing to surrender the surplus budgets, the federal government would be left with no option but to impose governor rules in Punjab and KP.

Mr Cheema demanded that the Federal Investigation Agency immediately conduct a forensic audit of the leaked audios to establish their authenticity. He regretted that at a time when 70 per cent of the country was under water due to heavy rains and floods, the ‘mischief-mongering’ group (PTI) was immersed in politics.

‘Nothing wrong’

Earlier, PTI leader Asad Umar, while speaking at a news conference along with KP Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra, said there was nothing wrong in the leaked conversations. He said it was a good advice and Imran Khan had also done the same thing and negotiated with the IMF when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak.

He said that being a former finance minister, Shaukat Tarin had every right to advise Mr Jhagra and Mr Leghari. “There is nothing wrong in Tarin speaking to Jhagra and Leghari on phone and giving advice.”

Mr Jhagra, while explaining the context of writing letter, said it also related to ex-Fata’s funding and other issues such as funds for tribal districts.

He said Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had kept delaying meetings with him on the issue despite the fact that KP and ex-Fata were also parts of Pakistan. He admitted that he wrote the letter and claimed that it was in the best interest of the people of Pakistan.

Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2022

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