• PTI chief allegedly wanted MNAs voting against him branded ‘Mir Jafar’ and ‘Mir Sadiq’
• Imran pressed party leaders to spoon-feed conspiracy rhetoric to ‘fertile minds’ of general public
• Shireen Mazari, Asad Umar feature in fresh audio; party terms it ‘cut-paste’ job

ISLAMABAD: Two more damning audio tapes purportedly featuring PTI chief Imran Khan came to the fore on Friday, suggesting his plans for horse-trading of parliamentarians and using a “US cipher” to brand those who would vote against him in April’s confidence vote as traitors.

Both audio leaks seemed to be of April when Mr Khan was in power and the no-confidence motion — that later led to his ouster — had been tabled in the National Assembly.

After the leaks emerged on Friday, the PTI chief clai­med in an afternoon rally that the PML-N was behind a “new game of fake audios”, whereas other party leaders said the leaked audios were a work of “cut and paste” in which bits of different conversations could be joined together.

However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the leaks had “exposed” Mr Khan’s “hypocrisy” and his “anti-state actions” had made him unfit for high office.

In the first audio leak, a voice sounding like Mr Khan’s can be heard talking about his strategy to win the support of five MNAs through horse-trading.

“You have a misunderstanding that now the number game is complete […] don’t think this is over.”

“You see, 48 hours is a long, long time. Big things are happening. I am making my own moves that we can’t make public,” Mr Khan purportedly says and adds that he “is buying five”.

“I have given the message that those five are very important. And tell them that if they secure these five […] and if he secures 10, then the game will be in our hands. The nation at this moment is alarmed. Across the board, people want us to win somehow.

“Hence, don’t worry about whether this is right or wrong […] even if they get one, it will create a huge difference,” the voice adds.

‘Fertile grounds’

In Friday’s second audio recording, which also claims to feature senior PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar, Mr Khan said the cipher — which he has used to further a foreign conspiracy narrative behind his ouster — had an international impact and urged his close aides to brand those who would vote against him in the confidence vote as Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq.

At the start of the audio, the voice believed to be of Mr Umar is heard saying: “Another point is in hindsight that whatever we are doing now should have been done at least ten days ago.”

On this, the person believed to be Imran Khan could be heard saying: “The impact of this letter is far-reaching and it has reached all over the world.”

Another voice, believed to be of Ms Mazari interrupts, saying, “The Chinese even have issued an official statement condemning the US intervention in the internal affairs of Pakistan.”

The PTI chief then allegedly details the strategy, saying “the public is with us and we must ensure that the pressure must be at such a height that whoever goes to the assembly for voting must be branded for life and you have to brand them as Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq”.

Mr Khan then purportedly presses his party leaders to “spoon-feed people as their minds are currently fertile grounds”.

‘Cut-pasted bits’

Ms Mazari later said the clip has “cut-pasted bits” because she was midway through her sentence and “a different bit of conversation is pasted, then the remainder of my sentence”.

In a tweet, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry did not disavow the clip’s contents but said that “everyone knows where and how the audios are being made”.

“By joining voices such as these will you prove NRO 2 to be valid?” he wondered.

Friday’s audio clips raise the number of audio leaks allegedly featuring the PTI chairman to four. Of them, three revolve around the cipher and one around horse-trading.

The first audio leak in the series, released last week, purportedly had Mr Khan telling the then principal secretary Azam Khan to “play up” the US cipher and turn it into a foreign plot to oust his government but adds that there is no need to name any country.

A day later, another clip surfaced — supposedly a continuation of the previous leaked conversation — purportedly featuring PTI leaders Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussing the cipher with the former premier and Azam Khan.

‘Unfit for high office’

Reacting to the leaks, Prime Minister Sharif tweeted that they had “exposed the hypocrisy of Imran Niazi”, who he said “does not tire of lecturing nation on morality is himself blatantly involved in immoral horse-trading. His fraudulent nature is being exposed every day. Niazi’s anti-state actions make him unfit for high office”.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2022



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