PTI ministers cry foul as Maryam admits audio recording of refusing ads to certain TV channels is legitPakistan
The government on Wednesday called out PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz after she admitted that an audio clip of her issuing instructions to refuse advertisements to certain channels was genuine.
But the PML-N played down her acknowledgement, saying there was no need to kick up a storm because Maryam was talking about her party's ads.
Earlier in the day, Maryam addressed a wide-ranging press conference centred around another audio leak that has dominated headlines in recent days: the one concerning former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and his purported statement that Maryam and her father PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif were jailed on the instructions of "institutions".
But a reporter asked her a question about her own audio clip that has been doing the rounds on social media. In the eight-second clip, Maryam can be heard saying: "No ad at all will be given to Channel 24, Samaa, 92 News and ARY."
Maryam admitted that the voice in the clip is hers, saying: "I am not saying it has been compiled from different [separate] occasions. It is my voice."
When asked about the clip again, Maryam said it was an "old" clip from the time she was managing the PML-N's media cell. But she refused to comment anymore on it, saying she could do an entire press conference on it if she wanted to but that wasn't the subject of her presser today.
During her father Nawaz's government, Maryam was heading the then little-known Strategic Media Communication Cell (SMCC) operating out of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Set up with the special approval of the then prime minister as part of the information ministry in late 2014, the SMCC quickly evolved into a powerful unit, working under the watchful eye of Maryam, Dawn reported at the time.
Reacting to Maryam's admission, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the PML-N vice president had confessed to "controlling" advertisements to major TV channels.
"This is another confession concerning serious financial irregularities. She says she was running the party's media cell. After this confession, I hope she will also divulge details about the properties owned by her and her family abroad," he tweeted.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, who also choose to comment on the same part of the press conference, said that Maryam had "finally said something truthful".
"The point is on what authority did she give these orders? Did she assume Nawaz Sharif was running his personal kingdom where she as his daughter could pass official orders?" the minister asked.
Defending Maryam in the face of the government criticism, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement said "Maryam Nawaz's conversation was regarding party advertisements; this is an old audio on which Maryam courageously spoke the truth."
Aurangzeb emphasised that decisions regarding party ads "are taken by the party itself".
"When one hasn't done anything wrong then this is how one openly confesses," the spokesperson said, adding that "there was nothing to hide in the audio."
"There is no need to stir up a storm over this audio; attention cannot be diverted from the real issue."