September 30, 2022
ISLAMABAD – PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Thursday held PTI chief Imran Khan and his “coach” responsible for the recently surfaced audio leaks featuring candid conversations between key figures in the coalition government.
Speaking to reporters outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after being acquitted in the Avenfield reference, Maryam accepted that four of the clips featured her.
“I know who is doing this all […] Imran and his coach are involved,” she said without elaborating further.
Commenting on the audio in which she purportedly asked Prime Minister Shehbaz to discontinue the PTI’s Sehat Card initiative, Maryam insisted that the health project was launched by PML-N supremo Nawaz.
I had worked hard on the health programme and it was launched by Nawaz Sharif, she claimed.
“I asked the PM to own the programme launched by his party and I never said to discontinue the initiative,” she said.
When asked whether she believed that the “establishment” was responsible for her conviction in the Avenfield case, Maryam instantly responded: “Who was the beneficiary?
“Imran knew he would not be able to come to power if Nawaz remained in the battleground,” she said. She said the PTI chief and his “coaches” would be “finished” in the near future.
In response to another question, Maryam said a nexus comprising “Imran, his coach and a couple of TV channels” were behind the audio leaks.
She also demanded that a “high-powered” joint investigation team (JIT) — consisting of government ministers, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials and law ministry representatives — be formed to probe the alleged audio leak of Imran Khan and his then-principal secretary Azam Khan.
“I believe the facts that have emerged should lead to his [Imran’s] arrest and he must be jailed straightaway,” she said.
Last week, a recording said to be of PM Shehbaz surfaced where he was discussing with an unidentified official the possibility of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project that was a concern of his niece Maryam Nawaz’s son-in-law. On Sunday, further recordings surfaced, which were shared on social media by several PTI leaders, concerning Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.
The contents of the leaked recordings, which appear to be informal audio leaks featuring candid conversations between key figures in the PM Office — as opposed to recorded phone conversations — were not denied by the government. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had insisted that these only showed that “nothing illegal had happened”.
The National Security Committee (NSC) meeting was also held on Wednesday which constituted a body to investigate the leaks, besides agreeing on putting in place a “legal framework” pertaining to cyber security.
“The [NSC] meeting approved the formation of a high-powered committee to investigate the issue of audio leaks,” the PM Office said after the high-level session that was attended by key ministers, services chiefs and top spy agencies officials.
The committee will be led by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
The media statement issued after the NSC meeting did not say anything about the fate of an ongoing investigation into the matter, which involves intelligence agencies, as to whether that would be taken over by the new body or would continue in parallel.
The investigation was started soon after the audio leaks appeared on social media a few days back.
Several staffers of PM House have been grilled.
The NSC was briefed about the probe that was already taking place, according to the PM Office.