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Steady drips of audio leaks

Col Ikram Ullah Khan

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan 

Amid a spate of audio leaks happening in Pakistan in a row including a set of audio clips between PM Shahbaz Sharif and other key government officials only a few days ago, the latest controversial audio clip purportedly of former PM Imran Khan is making the rounds in social media these days. 

In the leaked audio clip Imran Khan is heard talking about how to exploit the controversial diplomatic cypher linking it with his ouster and presenting it before the public as a foreign conspiracy. Imran Khan can be heard talking to his former principal secretary Azam Khan telling him that they should “play” with cypher issue without naming the country which later on he inadvertently named himself but hastened to say that it was just a slip of tongue. 

The alleged audio clip features a conversation between Imran Khan and his former principal secretary Azam Khan about a diplomatic cypher which Imran Khan has been using as evidence of a conspiracy to oust him from office. In the audio clip, a voice believed to be Imran Khan’s is heard saying: “We only have to play with it (cypher) without naming the country” to which the second voice believed to be Azam Khan’s, suggests to hold a meeting on the cypher issue to bring it on record. 

According to “The News International”, Imran Khan didn’t contradict the leaked audio clip attributed to him; instead, he told reporters: “It’s good that the audio got leaked. I would say the cypher should also be leaked so that everyone should come to know how big was that foreign conspiracy”. This, in a way amounts to confession of the audio clip by Imran Khan. 

The much-trumpeted foreign conspiracy refers to an alleged US conspiracy, as claimed by Imran Khan, to topple the PTI government through a vote of no-confidence and replace it with PDM’s nominee Shahbaz Sharif. 

It’s pertinent to mention here that this is not the first audio leak that has taken the social media by storm. As mentioned before, earlier too, audio clips attributed to PM Shahbaz Sharif conversing with government officials and Maryam Nawaz had also surfaced a few days back. Besides, only a few years back, there was another audio leak showing an audio conversation between Maryam Nawaz and the then information minister Pervez Rashid during Nawaz Sharif’s regime in which Maryam Nawaz is telling Pervez Rashid to control the media and tame certain anti-PML-N journalists. So the tradition of leaking audio clips in Pakistan is not uncommon. 

The way the audio clips are leaked with regular intervals, there is a probability that more such audio clips would be leaked in the days ahead as said by Imran Khan in his address at Government College University in Lahore a few days back that more audio clippings would surface in the coming days. 

It makes no surprise for the public when they hear about any audio leak of other politicians, particularly PML-N leaders including Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, but it does come as a rude shock to a whopping majority including Imran Khan’s frenzied supporters when they hear about an audio leak about Imran Khan exposing his duplicity which is in stark contrast to his apparent posture presenting himself in front of his followers to be brutally honest and upright person immune from all kinds of faults and who would never tell a lie and would never breach their trust. 

It may be recalled that Khan had promised while addressing a huge public rally held at Minaar-e-Pakistan Lahore before he came to power that he would always tell the truth and never tell lies to the nation and would never breach their trust. He had promised the audience by saying, “Mai aap se kabhi jhoot nehi boloonga. Mai aap k aitimaad ko kbhi thhais nehi pohunchaounga” (I would never tell lie to you. I would never breach your trust). 

The leaked audio clip believed to be Khan’s has raised a tempest, has put Khan’s credibility in jeopardy and has badly tarnished his image as a public figure. If authenticity of the leaked audio clip is established through forensic test, it would make a serious dent in Imran Khan’s popularity and reputation. It would hit Khan’s credibility hard and would dilute his conspiracy narrative that is based on a diplomatic cypher. Khan has been harping on this conspiracy theory ever since he has been shown the door through a vote of no-confidence. He has been doing all this to gain public sympathy in which he has been successful to a great extent. But the reality and truth can’t be concealed for long. 

Lastly, to the much dismay of the hardcore loyalists of Imran Khan, this unfortunate incident of audio leak, true or false, has put the skyrocketing popularity of Imran Khan on the skids, and according to prophets of doom, Khan is all set to meet his Waterloo; but as per my assessment, IK’s political horizon after the audio leak looks quite murky as substantial damage has been done. Controlling the damage and recovering from the setback which is caused by Khan’s repeated impulsive and presumptive acts, may be a hard row to hoe. With his tongue on the loose, he has made enemies and lost friends. He needs to understand that nobody is involved in conspiracy against him; he is the architect of his own doom. Picking up gratuitous row with international and domestic forces is not a wise thing to do.

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