Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday launched a blistering attack on his predecessor Imran Khan, calling him a ‘fraudster’ and the ‘biggest liar in the country,’ as he vehemently denied the involvement of his government in the embarrassing audio leaks controversy.
A leaked audio tape purportedly of Khan surfaced last month in which he is talking about how to exploit the controversial cypher to portray his ouster in April as a conspiracy.
The clip making rounds on social media features a conversation between Khan and his then principal secretary Azam Khan about a cypher sent by the Pakistan ambassador in Washington about his meeting with a US official.
Another audio of Khan was released, in which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman’s conversation with his party leaders including Asad Umer, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Azam Khan could be heard talking about the cypher received from the Pakistani ambassador.
Sharif said he was holding the press conference “to sensitise the nation” against the “biggest liar in the country”, alleging that Khan could sacrifice the country for his personal benefits.
“I’m finally saying this today that the entire opposition has been vindicated by God. And Imran Khan — who lies day and night — is a fraudster, who has isolated the nation and played with it,” he asserted.
On the audio leaks allegedly featuring Khan and his aides, Sharif said: “He can be heard saying that this was a game […] they can be heard saying that minutes of the meeting should be made according to their wishes. They played with the nation’s trust. The country’s honour was sabotaged in such a manner that no such example is found in history […] this is nothing less than treason,” adding Khan played a “serious game with the country”.
“I am asking you all, is there any doubt left as to who was behind the conspiracy?” he asked.
The Sharif government had constituted a top to probe the embarrassing audio leaks from the Pakistan Prime Minister’s House.
“The nation’s trust was played with. The country’s honour was sabotaged in such a manner that no such example is found in history […] this is nothing less than treason,” he elaborated.
Sharif also spoke about the no-confidence motion on April 3 by then deputy speaker and loyalist of Khan, Qasim Suri.
“Let’s go back to April 3 when voting was to be held on the no-confidence motion and everybody knows the incidents that took place on that day. But I just want to narrate what exactly happened on that day,” he said. The premier said Suri allowed the then information minister [Fawad Chaudhry] of that time to speak before the voting began.
He read a statement which mentioned that a conspiracy had been hatched against Khan’s government and termed it a “foreign conspiracy”. “On this, Suri sahab refused to allow the voting process to take place without even taking the Opposition into confidence,” Sharif explained.
Sharif added that within no time, Khan appeared on the television screens and announced that he was dissolving the National Assembly, “surprisingly the summary was also passed in 20 minutes.” “I am not repeating the incidents. I just want to share the link of the entire conspiracy,” he clarified.
Taking potshots at President Arif Alvi, Sharif said the president, a member of the PTI, who takes weeks to approve summaries, passed the summary regarding the dissolution of assemblies within 20 minutes.
“This was the basis of the conspiracy that Khan has been playing along with for the last five months and wasting the nation’s time,” Sharif added, lamenting that due to his wrongdoings, Pakistan’s relations with the US had been compromised.
The premier also targeted Khan for repeatedly criticising the armed forces for staying away from politics, after the former premier sarcastically addressed the military establishment as “neutrals”.
“He tried to attack the army and create divisions,” he noted.
Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
He made repeated allegations that the vote was a “foreign conspiracy” against him by the US and claimed to have a diplomatic cable to prove it. The US has denied any role in his ouster. –PTI