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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry lambasted Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday for his claim that the party had approached controversial US diplomat Donald Lu – whom former prime minister Imran Khan accuses of regime change with the help of local handlers – for forgiveness.

Asif claims that the coalition government had obtained evidence that the PTI sought to apologise to the American official, and added that the former ruling party [the PTI] was imploring the US to “forgive and forget and let bygones be bygones”.

Speaking at a presser along with PTI leader Dr Shireen Mazari, Chaudhry questioned whether Asif had gone deaf when Imran Khan made a “policy statement” in front of a crowd of thousands of people at the PTI’s rally at Parade Ground on Saturday.

“I’m sure you [Asif] hadn’t put cotton in your ears that you could not understand what Khan said about regime change and the US official,” he said while referring to Khan’s hard-hitting speech at the PTI’s jalsa when Khan blasted the US for its involvement in ousting his party government.

The former information minister said that the PTI wanted good relations with all countries including the US but would not allow any country to decide who should rule Pakistan.

“We cannot allow any country to decide who should rule the country...the PTI believes in maintaining relations on an equality basis,” he maintained.

Speaking on the occasion, Mazari warned that if the former prime minister’s phone calls with his principal secretary Azam Khan were leaked, we would not sit idle.

“Ansar Abbasi has said that an audio of Khan’s telephone call on a secure line with his principal secretary Azam Khan will be leaked,” she said.

She continued that if such audio is leaked, it will be a violation of the Official Secrets Act as the conversation between a prime minister and his principal secretary is protected under the law.

“If a journalist leaks this, they are not only violating Article 14, they will also be in violation of the Official Secrets Act. Beware, we will not sit quietly if this happens,” she added.

She also talked about the leak of an audio clip, wherein, Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, purportedly instructed social media head of the party to run a trend of “traitor” against their political opponents.

She said that only a forensic examination could prove the authenticity of the alleged clip but said that the real issue was tapping of the phones of party leaders, adding the Supreme Court had previously ruled that tapping phones during official and private conversations was unacceptable.

She claimed that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s premier spy agency, had accepted that 60,000 mobile phones were tapped every month, according to a newspaper report in June.

“Phone tapping is illegal and only intelligence agencies can do it because they have the means and the technical ability. Second, there are decisions of the Supreme Court — not once, but again and again. These decisions are valid because no one challenged them,” she added.

She also claimed that Imran Khan’s residence’s telephone was also tapped, adding that the apex court should take notice of the matter.

She said that such leaks were being done by the “neutrals to hide the conspiracy”, which led to the ouster of the Imran-led government.

“Look at the timing – they are scared of our rallies so they are diverting the attention of the nation because ... [of] load-shedding. Plus, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] has given them a condition to reframe their laws on accountability. So they have no place to run,” she added.

“The “neutrals” believed they could target the families of the PTI leaders because they could not find anything against Imran,” she claimed.

She also warned the Sharif family to avoid using their “deep contacts in India” to create trouble on the border in an effort to make the nation forget about this conspiracy.

Speaking on the occasion, Fawad Chaudhry also alleged that phones are continuously being tapped and conversations are being leaked across Pakistan.

Former information minister Fawad also urged the government to file a case against Farah Bibi first as he pointed toward allegations of corruption being levelled against her.

Pointing to the incumbent government’s policies, he said that they immediately accepted all the conditions of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] but still could not get the bail-out package.

He claimed that this was a sign of the government’s “incompetence”, adding that the National Accountability Bureau amendment was in reality NRO-2 of Rs1,100 billion.

He also alleged that the former president Asif Ali Zardari was granted an NRO of Rs50 billion through the Omni Group.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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