Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday denied that Tasneem Haider, who claims to be a Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) spokesperson in London, had any link with the party, adding that his allegations about party leader Nawaz Sharif are “baseless.”
Earlier, in a press conference from London that was broadcast by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s social media accounts and subsequently picked up by ARY News, Haider had alleged that Nawaz had discussed plans to assassinate Imran Khan and journalist Arshad Sharif during multiple discussions with his party leadership. He went on to claim that Nawaz had instructed him to arrange shooters to target the PTI chief in Wazirabad, but he had refused to do so.
Addressing the allegations, Aurangzeb said Haider had no links to the PMLN, either in London or elsewhere. “No one should try to become party spokesperson by force,” she said, adding if Haider had evidence related to Arshad Sharif’s murder, he should submit it to the relevant forum of a Joint Investigation Team probing the killing.
“Forgery, lies and fake news cannot divert attention from Arshad Sharif’s real killers,” she said, as she challenged ARY News to broadcast the press conference in the U.K. as it had Pakistan. “They [channel administration] don’t broadcast fake news in Britain because they have already been fined for lying,” she added.
PMLN U.K. President, Zubair Gul, similarly rejected Haider’s claims of links with the party. “Tasneem Haider is not the PMLN’s spokesperson at all,” he said. “We will drag him into Britain’s courts for his allegations. This drama has been plotted to divert attention from Arshad Sharif’s real killers,” he said, adding that the people flanking Haider during his press conference were PTI supporters.
As Haider’s press conference went viral on social media, mostly due to PTI leaders and sharing clips of it, the PMLN and PTI started trading blame on which party he actually belonged to, sharing pics of the man with leaders of each other’s parties to “prove” their claims.
As PTI leaders shared pictures of Haider at various PMLN events, Special Assistant to the P.M. Attaullah Tarar shared photographs of him with PTI leader Zulfikar Bukhari, while others posted pictures of him with Asad Qaiser. Both parties also shared pictures and clips of him at various rallies to try and fix his affiliation on each other.
“Apparently, this man looks like a fraudster,” wrote Tarar in a posting on Twitter. “Never heard his name nor seen him. Some channels have declared him a spokesperson straightaway. Shame on you, there is a limit to lies,” he said, claiming he was more likely to be Bukhari’s spokesperson.
In response, Bukhari claimed the pictures being showed were of his first—and only—meeting with Haider. “Overseas Pakistani have always treated me with respect,” he wrote on Twitter. “There were more than 1,500 people in the event. I don’t know this man,” he said, adding that regardless of Haider’s political affiliation, his allegations merited an investigation. “If the allegations are false, then they [PMLN] should approach the British court,” he added.