The PTI on Saturday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a judicial investigation into the recently surfaced audio recordings — of purported conversations between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and federal ministers — regarding the resignation of PTI MNAs from the National Assembly.
Last week, a slew of audio recordings of conversations between key government figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some members of the federal cabinet — surfaced online.
In one of the many recordings, a conversation between the prime minister, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq about the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the lower house of parliament.
PTI lawmakers had resigned en masse from the NA on April 11, following the ouster of party chief Imran Khan as the premier through a no-confidence motion.
Then-NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri, in the capacity of the House’s acting speaker, had subsequently accepted the resignations of 123 PTI MNAs. However incumbent NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf decided to verify the resignations and on July 27 accepted 11 of them.
The PTI had challenged the move in the IHC on August 1, contesting that it was “unsustainable”.
The IHC, however, dismissed the petition on September 6 and declared that the acceptance of PTI lawmakers’ resignations by Suri was unconstitutional.
The PTI had subsequently approached the SC, praying it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory and against the law”.
In the petition filed today, PTI contended that in the recently surfaced audio leaks, PM Shehbaz and federal ministers could be heard discussing a “heinous strategy to outplay the petitioner from the parliamentary politics in the most illegal, unlawful and objectionable manner”.
“The entire discussion revolves around a criminal strategy/conspiracy to affect and target the petitioner through (illegal and unlawful) piecemeal acceptance of the resignations tendered by the members of the National Assembly on the 11th day of April 2022, belonging to the petitioner party.”
It stated that the incumbent NA speaker and the NA secretary were involved in the “conspiracy”. PM Shehbaz and federal ministers Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb have also admitted the “actuality and existence of the referred audio leaks,” it said.
“After the admission from the incumbent office holders, the revelations surfaced through the audio leaks are to be treated as new facts emerged during the pendency of the proceedings before this august court, therefore, request to take judicial notice of the startling revelation deemed most appropriate,” the petition prayed.
Furthermore, it claimed that the prime minister, NA speaker and federal minister had violated their oath. “Criminal proceedings may very graciously be lodged against them,” it said.
In a tweet later in the day, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the development.
He demanded that the recordings should be investigated and that the SC should take a decision on PTI’s piecemeal resignation petition in light of the recordings.
Leaks reveal massive security breach at PM Office
What began as an alleged and potentially embarrassing audio leak seems to have turned into an all-out national security incident as a slew of audio recordings of conversations between key government-linked figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some members of the federal cabinet — were released over the weekend.
The content of the recordings appear to be informal conversations in the PM Office — as opposed to recorded phone conversations.
On Saturday, a recording of PM Shehbaz surfaced where he was discussing with an unidentified official the possibility of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project that was a concern of Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, Raheel.
On Sunday, further recordings surfaced, which were shared on social media by several PTI leaders, concerning former finance minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.
One clip purportedly features a conversation between PML-N Vice President Maryam and the premier about Miftah, wherein a voice thought to belong to the former says he “doesn’t know what he is doing” and wishes for the return of PML-N stalwart Ishaq Dar.
A second clip allegedly concerns a conversation between the prime minister, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq about the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.
A third clip purportedly features a conversation between Maryam Nawaz and PM Shehbaz regarding the return of former army chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.
PM Shehbaz on Tuesday termed the surfacing of audio leaks a “very serious lapse” and announced that a high-level committee would be constituted to probe the matter.