Leaked tape hints
at Imran’s ‘patch-up’
efforts with Zardari,
PTI denies conversation


ISLAMABAD: An audio recording of an alleged telephonic conversation between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari and property tycoon Malik Riaz was widely reported by the electronic media and shared on social media on Saturday but the PTI has denied the conversation.

Asif Ali Zardari

In purported audio-tape, the latter could be heard telling Mr Zardari that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was desperate for a “patch-up” with him.

The leaked audio recording — in which the voices were believed by many to be of Mr Zardari and Mr Riaz — came to the fore two days after Mr Khan abruptly ended a planned anti-government sit-in in Islamabad amid speculation of behind-the-scenes contacts between him and the establishment.

Though the PTI immediately declared the audio “fake”, the PPP leadership remained non-committal, while a number of party leaders said it “seemed genuine”.

In the almost 32-second conversation, the date and time of which is not confirmed, Mr Riaz can be heard telling Mr Zardari that Mr Khan had been sending him messages asking him to help “patch up” with the PPP.

Malik Riaz

“Today, he (Imran Khan) has sent too many messages,” the voice believed to be of Mr Riaz told the former president, who in response says: “It is impossible now.”

“It’s okay. I just wanted to bring this into your notice,” said Mr Riaz’s alleged voice.

When contacted, a number of senior PPP leaders said they were not aware of the timing of the purported phone call, but they could confirm that Malik Riaz had been playing the role of a mediator after submission of the no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan in the National Assembly by the then opposition parties.

PTI rejects leaked audiotape

Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday rejected leaked audiotape between property tycoon Malik Riaz and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Talking to media persons, former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that it is out of question that former prime minister Imran Khan would ask someone to patch things up for him. These people get united just to degrade PTI Chairman, he added.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

The PTI leader also criticized government for amendments in the NAB laws and alleged the new amendments were the ones they had once proposed to the PTI in an attempt to get the NRO.

He told the journalists that a blanket cover had been given to all cases pertaining to money laundering and asset beyond means.

The audios date and time have not been confirmed yet, but Malik Riaz could be heard saying that Khan has requested him to mediate between the two political leaders.

Another PPP leader, while claiming that the alleged audio seemed genuine, questioned who was tapping the telephones of the former president. He said it was a serious matter and should be probed.

Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz during his address at a public meeting in Bahawalpur also referred to the leaked conversation and claimed it had been proved how Imran Khan was begging for a deal.

On the other hand, PTI spokesman Dr Shahbaz Gill through his Twitter handle termed the audio recording a “lie” and “far from reality”.

“A businessman and an opponent of Imran Khan are talking about things that have nothing to do with reality. Imran Khan does not require an NRO. Instead, all these people kept seeking an NRO (from Imran) which they didn’t get,” tweeted Mr Gill minutes after the alleged conversation surfaced. He further added: “This story is a lie…. at least, a strong script should have been written.”

Until the filing of this report, there was no official word from Malik Riaz over the development. But ‘The Nation’, London doubts the authenticity of the sound reportedly attributed to Riaz Malik.