ISLAMABAD: In light of an audio leak pertaining to the distribution of PTI tickets wherein the son of a former chief justice of Pakistan was also featured, the National Assembly speaker on Wednesday formed a ten-member parliamentary team to investigate the leaked clip.

Separately, a reference has also been filed before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), seeking action against PTI chief Imran Khan and ex-CJP Saqib Nisar for their alleged involvement in corrupt practices.

The parliamentary panel was formed after lawmakers sought action against individuals who had been “facilitating” PTI chief Imran Khan.

“National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been pleased to appoint a special committee to audit, inquire and investigate the audio leaks of Mr Najam Saqib s/o Mr Saqib Nisar, ex-Chief Justice of Pakistan with [a] PTI ticket holder,” said a notification issued on Wednesday.

It said the committee shall conduct a thorough investigation and launch an inquiry into the said audio leaks and present a comprehensive report to the National Assembly and added that the panel shall be assisted by any investigative agency.

Muhammad Aslam Bhootani will head the committee whereas Shahida Akhtar Ali, Muhammad Abu Bakar, Muhammad Barjees Tahir, Sheikh Rohale Asghar, Syed Hussain Tariq, Naz Baloch, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Wajiha Qamar, and Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla will be its members.

Reference before ECP seeks Imran’s disqualification over alleged sale of tickets

ECP moved against Imran

The PML-N moved the ECP for Imran Khan’s disqualification, as well as action against other characters allegedly linked to the audio leak, including Saqib Nisar. The reference has been filed by PML-N leaders Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan and Ataullah Tarar — both special assistants to the prime minister.

The reference was filed under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution and the Elections Act on charges of taking bribes in return for tickets awarded to the PTI candidates. The list of PTI ticket holders, relevant documents and records were also attached to the reference for action. A transcript of the purported audio leak of Najam Saqib was also affixed to the reference.

Besides, Imran Khan and the former CJP and his son Najam Saqib, PP-137 ticket-holder Abuzar Chaddhar, Mian Uzair, Ejaz Chaudhry, who is chairperson of the Reconciliatory Committee for Central Punjab, and PTI Secretary General Asad Umar were also made parties to the reference.

According to the PML-N leaders, the party election tickets of the Punjab Assembly are being bought and sold in violation of the laws, ethics, and democracy. It alleged that the PTI was polluting the “sacred field of politics” by allegedly indulging in corruption during the award of party tickets.

They noted that the persons mentioned in the reference are “directly involved in this crime” while Imran Khan himself gave party tickets last week. The PML-N leaders claimed that the persons associated with the leaked clip have been exposed after the audio clip went viral on media on April 29.

The PML-N leaders in their reference asked ECP to order an immediate inquiry into the corrupt practices while also seeking disqualification of the accused from contesting elections due to their “corrupt and irregular conduct”. They also sought strict action against corrupt practices under Section 174 of the Elections Act against the accused persons.

The reference also urged cancellation of the tickets awarded by the PTI to its candidates for elections to the Punjab Assembly while also urging the commission to restrain the accused, especially Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Ejaz Chaudhry, from any future role in the award of party tickets. The reference also urged the ECP to remove Imran Khan as the PTI chairman for engaging in corrupt practices.

The leaked audio purportedly featured two separate telephonic conversations between Najam Saqib and party ticket-holder from PP-137, Abuzar Maqsood Chaddhar, and Mian Uzair. The three individuals could be heard allegedly talking about the provincial assembly ticket recently issued by PTI.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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