• Voices said to belong to Zulfi Bukhari, Imran’s wife feature on 21-second clip
• Bukhari questions authenticity of recording; Islamabad shopkeeper denies purchasing watch
KARACHI: The Toshakhana case dominated television headlines once again on Thursday after an audio tape surfaced, purported to be of a conversation between a PTI leader and the wife of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, where the duo can be heard talking about the sale of wristwatches in the possession of the former premier.
The 21-second clip is the latest development in the matter involving the sale of an expensive Graff wristwatch, gifted to Mr Khan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“There are a few [watches] that Khan sahib wants to be delivered to you so you could sell them. These watches are not in his use so he wants them to be sold off,” a voice purported to belong to Mr Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, can be heard telling the person on the other end.
In reply, a voice said to belong to former aide to PM Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari says, “Sure, murshid. I will do it.”
The source of the audio recording could not be immediately established, and its veracity has been challenged by several quarters.
Mr Bukhari has also denied his involvement in the sale of the watches as well as questioned the authenticity of the audio.
“Earlier, it was being said the watches were sold to a man named Umar Zahoor through Farah [Khan]. When they were sent a legal notice, a new story surfaced that in reality the watch was sold through me. Let me make it clear I neither took any watch nor sold [any watch],” he said in a series of tweets on Thursday.
Mr Bukhari, while demanding the forensic audit of the tape, claimed that even “college kids” could doctor audios. “I am ready to pay for it [forensic audit] out of my pocket.”
The issue of the sale of the watch has been a point of contention for the former prime minister since he was ousted from power in April. Mr Khan was disqualified by the election commission in October in the same case for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
In November, the Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor claimed the PTI government sold the wristwatch to him for $2 million, worth approximately Rs280m at the time of sale in 2019.
PTI contested Mr Zahoor’s claim and argued the watch was sold to a shop ‘Art of Time’ in Islamabad, but on Thursday, Geo News reported that the owner of the shop had also denied his involvement in the purchase.
In a video message shared widely on social media, the man, identifying himself as Muhammad Shafiq said he had a shop in Jinnah supermarket in the F7 area of Islamabad.
“Propaganda was going on against me and my shop [that] I bought Imran Khan’s Graff watch,” he said, adding he neither bought any watch nor signed any bill.
“Neither was that my [shop’s] bill, nor was that my sign or handwriting. It was misused,” he said of a receipt shared on social media by PTI leaders to prove the sale.
Mr Shafiq added that he had been silent on the issue, hoping for it to “die down”.
“But it didn’t happen … I was quite distressed the whole time and I was even compelled to sell the shop and shut my business.”
Calling the whole episode “propaganda” he vowed legal action against those linking him to the purchase in future.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022