Maryam’s fresh audiotape surfaces

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—Farrukh says PML-N ‘curbed media freedom’

Blasts PML-N for ‘blackmailing media’

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib castigated the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for “blackmailing media” after an alleged audiotape of PML-N Vice President and former information minister Pervaiz Rashid emerged on Tuesday.

In the un-dated leaked clip, the PML-N leaders are purportedly discussing a current affairs show, over its alleged “bias” against the PML-N government. The audio was run by two local tv channels.

In the clip, Rashid can be allegedly heard saying that Hasan Nisar is part of the show “who abuses us a lot”. Maryam allegedly interjects, saying now journalist Irshad Bhatti is also added to the programme. Bhatti also uses “vulgar language”, Rashid allegedly adds.

Rashid also mentions Babar Sattar, who used to be a part of the TV show before his appointment to high court as a judge, calling him an independent journalist.

As per the clip, the authenticity of which could not be verified at this point, the PML-N leaders also mention journalist Mazhar Abbas. Rashid purportedly says that Mazhar is “tilted against us” and sometimes spins things to ridicule the PML-N.

“Nobody there can be called our spokesperson,” Rashid allegedly adds. [Analyst Hafeezullah Niazi] did not propagate our narrative but the way they abuse us [PML-N] … he would treat Imran Khan the same way,” the clip adds.

Now they have removed him from the show and discontinued his column in the newspaper, the PML-N leader purportedly says.

Maryam allegedly responds that she would ask Niazi and the news organisation’s editor-in-chief about the removal of Niazi from the show.

“[At this pace] It will become an imbalanced programme. If there was a check on Imran Khan, you have ended it and [unleashed] barking dogs on us,” Rashid allegedly says in reference to the show.

“Indeed, this is bias,” Maryam purportedly agrees.

At the end of the clip, Maryam can allegedly be heard giving instructions about sending gift baskets to journalists Nusrat Javeed and Rana Jawad.

In response to the alleged clip of the PML-N leaders, Farrukh said that the PML-N had vast experience and expert in blackmailing and controlling freedom of media.

Talking to a private news channel, he condemned the alleged audio leaks of Maryam Nawaz and former federal minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid. He said the PML-N always kept the media under pressure to use it for their vested interests.

To a question, Farrukh Habib said that PML-N had always curbed the freedom of media, which spoke against them in the past. The minister said that this audio has exposed how they were “playing tricks to control the freedom of media”.