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After exchanging barbs, Senate agrees to debate audio leak on cipher

By Mumtaz Alvi
October 01, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition in the Senate traded barbs on the audio leak cipher controversy on Friday and then agreed to a full debate in the House on this matter, accusing each other of playing with the country for personal interests.

After the question hour, the House adopted the Export-Import Bank of Pakistan Bill, 2022, already passed by the National Assembly in June and cleared by the Senate standing committee concerned.

Later, on a point of public importance, opposition leader Dr Shahzad Waseem claimed that things had reached to such a level that the veil from the face of the Constitution, the law, the Parliament and democracy had been removed.

“And, the weaknesses behind all this are now before the nation, as to how they are paying in the name of Constitution, the law and democracy. Extremely tragic and painful story is being played with the nation,” he went on to allege.

The PTI legislator explained that in democracy, the will and the voice of the masses was included but here, people had been taken out from democracy and a ‘make-believe system’ put in place. He continued for instance, no pro-public legislation was taking place in the Parliament, they (opposition) were not being allowed even to speak while bills were being bulldozed.

Senator Shahzad claimed that the biggest gimmick was played in the form of NRO-II during this rule…they got enacted a law of their own choice, and it would always be remembered, as a consequence of it, corruption cases were ‘quashed’ and corruption was pardoned, and it was like free for all environment in the country.

He continued that while not only corruption cases were being buried, but also national economy as well as democratic traditions. He pointed out while corruption cases were buried but Avenfield (apartments) was before the Parliament like a metaphor, as their buildings existed and they had been living there since 1992-93 and they also claimed the ownership but one would say, these did not belong to him, brother would say, these belonged to his sister and then it was claimed these were owned by their elders. “The buildings are there but what is not is the answer to the question and that is the money trail,” he maintained.

Referring to the audio leaks, he said that the audio leaks had proved it was a security breach and that their business interests were dearer to them than the masses: like the Prime Minister’s House is available, if machinery is to be imported from India for factories or a grid station is to be set up for their housing society.

But, he alleged, they had nothing to do with the public welfare and they were ready to roll back the past rulers good initiatives, including the health card. He also referred to the farmers’ protest in Isl amabad. However, he claimed that the nation had now decided to change its own fate by uniting under the leadership of Imran Khan, as the incumbent government had no moral authority to stay.

He reiterated holding fresh elections, allowing people to elect and install a government of their own choice. Later, responding to the reply given to his outbursts by leader of the house Azam Nazeer Tarar, Dr Shahzad clarified that they were not feeling embarrassed with regards to the audio leak conversation on cipher between then PM Imran and his principal secretary Azam Khan and accepted his idea of a debate in the House on it.

“People are faced with electricity (bill) bombs and are not finding even medicines, as the rulers are heartless and can’t understand people’s issues. It is the government that is embarrassed. Let there be a debate on cipher and regime change, as audio leak has proved cipher is a reality. People must know about the regime change and who are behind it and from where they came and how much fee they received for NRO-II and put the nation in a ditch,” he said.

Responding to his speech, Law Minister and Leader of the House Azam Nazeer Tarar criticised the PTI and said that they were not feeling embarrassed with regards to the audio leak featuring conversation between then PM Imran and his principal secretary Azam Khan.

He said that Imran in the conversations can be heard saying that he would only play with the cipher, and by doing so he was instead playing with the fate of the nation by isolating the country diplomatically.

The objective was that power should not go out of his hands. He proposed that the House should hold a debate on this audio leak so that people should know who was a traitor of this country.

He said that Maryam Nawaz got a clean chit after the long legal battle following the acquittal of planning minister Ahsan Iqbal in another corruption case. He said Imran’s accountability narrative stood totally exposed.

“The courts are free and giving judgments independently in accordance with the Constitution. People will hold you accountable as to why innocent people were put behind bars. If verdicts are announced in your favour, then you celebrate and when against you, then you lament,” he said.

He said the government was functioning in accordance with the Constitution and it was not like first waving a letter and then seeking pardon. The division bench’s decision in the Avenfield case, he claimed, was a slap in the PTI’s accountability narrative. The minister said that it was the PTI, which had bulldozed the laws like the electoral reforms bill and another bill that comprised sovereignty of the State Bank of Pakistan while in power. Referring to the audio leak, he alleged: “This is a slap in your narrative of accountability”.

He threw a challenge to the opposition leader for a debate in the House to find for the nation who was a traitor and who stood with the nation. Meanwhile, the treasury benches filed a motion under rule 218 for a discussion on the audio leak pertaining to cipher, involving ex-PM Imran Khan and his then principal secretary Azam Khan.

The motion reads: “This House may discuss the audio leaks circulating on social media of former prime minister and principal secretary about misusing the classified diplomatic cable for political motives. Former PM has misused his office and authority to sabotage and misinterpret the facts making it look like a foreign conspiracy”.