ISLAMABAD: After a lull of several days, a new leaked conversation has stirred up a storm in the country’s political landscape, but this time the people involved aren’t key political players.

The latest leaked audio purportedly features a conversation between two women, one of whom is said to be the mother-in-law of a top-ranking serving judge of the Supreme Court, while the other is spouse of one of the PTI’s legal advisers — Khawaja Tariq Rahim.

While the identities of the women in question could not be independently verified, the clip — which has been widely circula­ted on social and mainstream media — has evoked a stern reaction from across the political divide, along with calls for a thorough probe.

In their conversation, the two women were purportedly discussing a sub juice matter regarding the suo motu notice by CJP Umar Ata Bandial on the delay of elections to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

Fresh clip purportedly features SC judge’s relative, PTI leader’s wife discussing early elections, bill to regulate top judge’s power and martial law

A three-member Supreme Court judge — comprising the chief justice, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — is hearing the said case.

In the leaked conversation, the two women can be heard discussing the chief justice’s prerogative to take suo motu notice, the law regulating the top judge’s power and the possibility of snap elections and martial law.

The voice believed to belong to Mr Rahim’s wife could be heard saying that she had sent a message to CJP Bandial stating that there were hundreds of thousands of people supporting and praying for him.

“I was present at the Lahore rally [and] hundreds of thousands of people were there,” she said while referring to the PTI’s rally at Minar-i-Pakistan last month.

“Just like that there are hundreds of thousands of people in every city and you can imagine how many people are praying for you,” said the voice.

In reply, the voice of a woman said to be related to a serving Supreme Court justice, criticised the government whom she said was questioning the CJP’s decision to exercise his power of taking the suo motu notice.

“Now they are saying why we got the authority to do it … and also questioning why suo motu [notice] was taken,” the voice says.

“This was his [the CJP’s] right,” the other voice replies while calling the chief justice’s critics “traitors of this country”.

The two women also discussed early elections, with one purportedly expressing the desire for polls “as early as possible”.

“If elections are not held, then martial law will be enforced,” the PTI leader’s wife replied. “They [the incumbent government] can’t stay. That’s it”

“They are not ready to enforce martial law,” the judge’s relative replied in an apparent reference to the military’s reluctance to intervene.

“They’re completely ready,” the voice said to be a PTI leader’s wife said before the clip ends.

‘Unfortunate and serious offence’

Reacting to the leaked conversation, senior lawyer Shuaib Shaheen termed it “unfortunate” adding that recording a private conversation was “a serious offence”.

He urged CJP Bandial to take notice of the matter and seek answers from the state.

He also censured the media for broadcasting an unverified audio.

“For the sake of argument, if we presume the audio to be genuine, even then no one could point fingers towards the [senior SC judge],” said Mr Shaheen.

Another senior lawyer Raja Inam Ameen Minhas called for a thorough investigation into the issue.

“It should be investigated as it is not a routine audio leak. It is apparently related to the final arbitrator of Pakistan, therefore, this is a highly sensitive matter as well,” said Mr Minhas who was the former president of Islamabad High Court Bar Association.

“A comprehensive investigation is indispensable to restore the trust of the judiciary in the eyes of a common man,” he added.

“If the audio is found to be fake, then exemplary punishment should be handed to those who tried to benefit from it.”

“In case the clip is genuine, then the law should take its course,” Mr Minhas added.He said that the chief justice was due to retire in the next few months and he must clear his name before leaving the office.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2023

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