LAHORE / KARACHI: An audio clip featuring a conversation bet­ween PTI leader Yasmin Rashid and President Arif Alvi was leaked on Wednesday, wherein the former could be heard requesting the president for an ‘immediate intervention’ to put an end to violence outside Zaman Park.

The conversation initially released on social media appears to have taken place as PTI supporters engaged in clashes with law enforcers outside PTI chief Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore on Tuesday.

Dr Rashid confirmed the veracity of the audio leak, saying she had requested to talk to the president and eventually she received a call from the presidency.

In the clip, she can be heard telling the president, “The situation here is very bad. People, our workers, have started throwing petrol bombs. Before there is bloodshed, I think you need to talk to somebody and intervene immediately.” Dr Alvi responded that he has talked to ‘someone’ in this regard. “You should tell them that you will talk,” she added. “To whom?” asked Dr Alvi. She responded: “Khan sahib”.

“I don’t understand. What are you saying,” the president added.

“Look, sir, the situation right now […] some people will die, some police personnel too. The situation will become so bad that elections will be postponed,” Dr Rashid added. “I think what you need to do is tell Khan sahib that I think the best thing is to give in and then fight another day. That is what I think. The rest you know better,” the voice continued.

The PTI leader said Rangers were also present outside Zaman Park, petrol bombs were being thrown and a water cannon had been set on fire.

“I am intentionally sitting outside for the moment today for the first time […] the problem is that this is now really, really going from bad to worse.” “Okay, let me consult with Asad [Umar] also,” the president replied.

“I talked to Asad but he said you don’t have to say anything. He is also sitting outside and so am I […] I also think you should talk to Shah [Mah­mood Qureshi] sahib. He is sitting inside with Khan sahib,” she added.

Commenting on the audio leak, a senior PTI leader, on the condition of anonymity, said it was a “shameful act”. “Those leaking the audio conversation[s] that they did not even think about the sanctity and privacy” of the president’s office, the party leader added. “Those behind the audio leak have exposed the supreme commander of a nuclear country to the outer world and caused embarrassment to Pakistan.”

Responding to the audio clip on Twitter, the PML-N’s official account said, “PTI leaders are confessing that they are attacking police with petrol bombs! Down with these terrorists attacking the state!!!”

PTI leader Shibli Faraz claimed PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz was behind the leaked clip and called her a “video and audio expert”. “You can find all sorts of videos with her,” he added.

“This is not about Arif Alvi. This is [about] the post of the president of Pakistan where it appears that his conversation is being recorded. This is a disgrace.” The coalition government, he said, had made the country into a “joke” and a “banana republic”.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2023

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