LAHORE: The investigators probing the assassination attempt on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s life have contacted Tasneem Haider Shah to seek evidence for his claims of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s involvement in the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif and the attempt on Mr Khan’s life.

Two days ago, video clips from Mr Shah’s press conference started doing rounds on social media. Claiming to be PML-N’s spokesperson in London, he levelled the allegations against Mr Sharif and claimed he had sought his assistance to ‘arrange shooters’ to murder Mr Khan and Mr Sharif.

The joint investigation team (JIT), formed to probe the Wazirabad attack on Mr Khan, has now asked Mr Shah to produce evidence against the PML-N supremo.

An official privy to the information told Dawn the JIT contacted Mr Shah over telephone in London in the backdrop of his “shocking press conference”.

‘Proclaimed offender’ Tasneem Haider refuses to visit Pakistan to record statement

Earlier, Mr Shah had also said that he was ready to record his testimony before the authorities in Pakistan.

The JIT head, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, contacted Mr Shah late on Sunday, the official said, adding it was a follow-up call shortly after advisor to Punjab chief minister and PTI leader Omar Sarfraz Cheema contacted Mr Shah to introduce CCPO Dogar.

After raising questions about his allegations, the JIT head asked him to visit Pakistan to record a statement before the team under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).

However, Mr Shah excused himself from visiting the country as he had been declared a proclaimed offender in criminal cases lodged in Gujrat district, the official added.

CCPO Dogar then offered to record the statement via video call from London, the official said, adding both sides agreed to discuss the issue further in next rounds of telephonic calls.

‘Allegations push PML-N on backfoot’

Meanwhile, the allegations have “jolted” the PML-N-led government, who is already facing relentless censure from the PTI chairman.

The allegations have come at a time when the government was being criticised by PTI leadership after Mr Khan accused Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and senior intelligence official Maj Gen Faisal Naseer for the assassination attempt, the official said.

On Sunday, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also asked Mr Shah to present evidence before the JIT.

She denied any links between the PML-N and Mr Shah and said he was not the party’s spokesperson in London. “No one should try to become [the] party spokesperson by force.”

“Forgery, lies and fake news cannot divert attention from Arshad Sharif’s real killers,” she added.

PML-N leaders have also accused the PTI of ‘trying to create noise’ over non-issues to drown out the impact of the Toshakhana issue, involving the PTI and Mr Khan.

Last week, Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor claimed the PTI government sold an expensive Graff wristwatch — gifted to former PM Khan by Saudi Crown Prince Moham­mad Bin Salman — for $2 million, worth approximately Rs280m at the time of sale in 2019.

Mr Zahoor had claimed that former accoun­ta­bility minister Shahzad Akbar contacted him in March 2019 to buy the watches.

“In March 2019, former accoun­ta­bility minister Shahzad Akbar said that he had a set of watches and if I was interested, I should reach out to Farah [Khan] (a close aide of Imran’s wife Bushra Bibi) as she needed help and didn’t have any asset buyer,” Mr Zahoor said in an interview with Geo News’ Shahzeb Khanzada.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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