Release of audio tape conspiracy against me and Prez: Qayyum

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Islamabad, Feb 16 (UNI) Pakistan Attorney-General Malik Mohammed Qayyum has rubbished the contents of audio tape released by the Human Rights Watch that had accused him of planning to rig elections, saying it was a conspiracy against him and President Pervez Musharraf.

''The release of the fake audio is a conspiracy against me as I am a close aide of the president,'' the Daily news quoted him as saying.

The New York-based organisation had released the highly controversial audio tape of Gen Qayyum which accused him of saying, ''The upcoming parliamentary elections will be massively rigged.'' The audio was obtained from secret sources and the Human Rights Watch claimed that the conversation was recorded on November 21, 2007 when a journalist was interviewing Gen Qayyum and he took another call on another telephone, putting the journalist on hold.

The said journalist was recording the call and thus conversation of Gen Qayyum with an unidentified person was recorded ultimately.

In the recording, Gen Qayyum appears to be advising the unidentified caller on what political party he should approach to become a candidate in the upcoming elections.

The recording was made the day after the Election Commission announced the schedule for the polls. The election was originally planned for January 8 but was postponed after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Former premier Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan on November 25.

An English translation of the recording, which is in Urdu and Punjabi, follows: ''Leave Nawaz Sharif (pause)... I think Nawaz Sharif will not take part in the election (pause)... If he does take part, he will be in trouble. If Benazir takes part she too will be in trouble (pause)... They will massively rig election to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it (pause)... If Nawaz Sharif does not return himself, then Nawaz Sharif has some advantage. If he comes himself, even if after the elections rather than before (pause).

Yes.'' Though it was not clear whom Gen Qayyum referred to while saying ''They'' many believe he meant to say the former ruling party and the establishment.

The HRW press release also claimed that its repeated attempts to contact the attorney-general by phone were unsuccessful.

In February 2001, the Sunday Times published a report based on transcripts of 32 audio tapes, which revealed that Gen Qayyum, a retired Lahore high court judge, convicted Bhutto and Zardari for political reasons.

The transcripts of the recordings reproduced by the newspaper showed that he had asked the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif's anti-corruption chief, Saifur Rehman, for advice on the sentence: ''Now you tell me how much punishment do you want me to give her?'' The Attorney General, however, said the HRW did not take his version and that it did not know about the identification of the person to which he was talking, which automatically raised questions about the authenticity of the recording.

UNI XC SYU RS1524

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