Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday fired broadsides at PTI chief Imran Khan, calling him a “fraudster” and the “biggest liar in Pakistan’s history”.
The premier was flanked by government officials Marriyum Aurangzeb, Attaullah Tarar and Ahsan Iqbal while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. He said that Imran and his supporters were trying to turn Pakistan’s donors against the government via social media tactics.
“I’m finally saying this today that the entire opposition has been vindicated by God. And Imran Khan — who lies day and night — is a fraudster […] he had isolated the nation and played with it. He attacked the army and tried to create divisions.”
Shehbaz added that the government wanted to keep Imran’s “true face” in front of the nation. “The decision will be taken by you through the vote.”
At the outset of the press conference, PM Shehbaz recalled the events of April 3 — the day the no-confidence motion was submitted against then-prime minister Imran in the National Assembly (NA).
“I just want to tell you what happened that day. Before the voting [of the no-trust vote], the information minister at that time (Fawad Chaudhry) stood up and read a statement saying that a conspiracy was devised against the government […] its links were with a foreign power and the opposition has brought this motion.
“Subsequently, [former NA] deputy speaker Qasim Suri read a written statement in which he rejected the no-confidence motion on the basis of the conspiracy story […] without asking us,” Shehbaz said.
Within no time, he went on, Imran came on television and announced the dissolution of NA. “Twenty minutes later, the president approved the summary.”
This was the basis of the conspiracy that Imran has been playing along with for the past five months and wasting the nation’s time, PM Shehbaz said. “Due to this game, Pakistan’s relations with the biggest powers of the world have been compromised.”
He recalled that “baseless allegations” were levelled at several government leaders during this time. “You can say whatever you want, but calling someone a traitor […] there is no bigger conspiracy than it.
“On the floor of the NA, I said that if God forbid this conspiracy was proved against me or the coalition, then the nation has the right to hang me.”
But today, Shehbaz contended that links of the so-called conspiracy were connected to Imran and there was solid evidence of it.
Imran’s ‘true face’
Referring to the recently-surfaced audio recordings purportedly featuring Imran and his former federal ministers, the prime minister said that the leaks had revealed Imran’s truth but also clarified that the government had nothing to do with them.
“He can be heard saying that this is a game […] they can be heard saying that minutes of the meeting should be made according to their wish.
“The nation’s trust was played with. The country’s honour was sabotaged in such a manner that no such example is found in history […] this is nothing less than treason,” Shehbaz said, claiming that Imran played a “serious game with the country”.
“Tell me, is there any doubt after this that who was behind the conspiracy?”
The prime minister said that he was “here today to sensitise the nation” against the “biggest liar in the country”, alleging that Imran could sacrifice the country for his personal benefits.
Shehbaz said that two days after the PMO audio leaks, an ambassador from a friendly country came to meet him at the Prime Minister’s Office. “I had some discussion with him after which he highlighted that now no one would feel safe talking at the PMO.”
This, he continued, was not just a huge loss for the government but a loss that the nation would have to bear for decades to come.
‘Cipher can’t be decoded’
In response to a question, the premier said that the cipher — which Imran claims contains details of a foreign conspiracy to oust him from power — can’t be decoded by the government.
“If it is, then all the cables from all embassies can be leaked or stolen,” he reasoned.
Shehbaz reiterated that the prime minister’s copy of the cipher, also referred to as the master copy, had been missing. “Imran himself doesn’t know where it is.
“But his audio leaks have proven that there were four people behind the so-called conspiracy. What other evidence do you need,” he demanded.
The PM also revealed that the cabinet had decided to probe the audio leaks, adding that an investigation into them had already begun. “We will tell the nation [the findings] with complete transparency.”
‘Army chief’s appointment as per Constitution’
The prime minister asserted that the appointment of the next army chief — upcoming in November — will be done as per the Constitution.
“It [the appointment] has a process in the law and Constitution and the decision will be taken according to that.”
In response to a question about some “groups” trying to protect Imran, Shehbaz said that the PTI chief had committed “treason against the land of Pakistan” by inflicting irreparable damage to the nation. “The cabinet had also permitted an inquiry on it.”
“As for the courts, the real question is if the courts are taking decisions based on justice. I think we should try to further make courts independent.
“No one will be allowed to take illegal action or law into their hands,” he added.