Of the two audio leaks purportedly of Imran Khan as Prime Minister, released on Friday, one deals with getting five parliamentarians on his side. Previous leaks, as well as another on Friday, have dealt with the cipher. This thus makes it an attempt to weaken Imran’s narrative, which he has been taking to the country since his ouster in March, and which had not just attributed to his reception by large crowds, but also the PTI’s victory in the Punjab by-elections. Whereas the first leaks attacked his claim that the diplomatic cipher from the USA proved that there was a US conspiracy to oust him, the second leak shows him as engaging in horsetrading, an activity he had previously condemned, The clip is tantalisingly brief, and it does not make clear whether the ‘five’ mentioned are Senators, MNAs or Punjab MPAs. While the election for Senate Chairman last year involved floor crossing by five Senators in the Senate Chairmanship election, MNAs were involved in vote of no-confidence this year, and Punjab MPAs in the CM’s election just after, which saw 20 PTI MPAs breaking ranks and being deseated later.
Be that as it may, whoever the leaker, the leaks seem to have come from the PM’s Office. Even Mr Khan’s spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, did not deny the leaks were genuine, turning aside the query by saying that everyone knew who made these recordings, The Friday release had been preceded by the hacker listing out the various conversations he would leak. More direct pressure on Mr Khan came from the FIA arresting PTI stalwarts in connection with the party accounts into which Abraaj Group chief Arif Naqvi is alleged to have donated to the party. NAB has also summoned 21 ex-Ministers in connection with the giving to real estate tycoon Malik Riaz of £140 million.