Saturday, February 4, 2023

Shehbaz admits ‘security lapse’ at PM Office, orders high-level probe into Audio Leaks

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) this week to determine how recordings of the conversations in the country’s highest ranking office were leaked online.

The audio clips of conversations that allegedly took place in Prime Minister Office (PMO) surfaced on a hacking forum and raised alarms over the cyber security of the Pakistan PMO.

According to local media reports, a joint investigation team (JIT) has also been established to probe the huge security lapse and the initial inquiry has been completed by theintelligence agencies. The reports of the inquiry would be placed before the Prime Minister in the NSC meeting by the high-ups of the agencies.

During a press conference on Tuesday, PM Shehbaz Sharif termed the leaks as a “serious security lapse” and announced the formation of a high-powered committee to probe the issue.

“This is a very important matter and this serious security lapse and breach are a big question mark…who will be willing to come to meet the prime minister…anyone will think a 100 times before discussing any sensitive matter at the PM House,” he said.

PM Sharif didn’t hesitate to confirm the authenticity of the audios featuring himself and Maryam Nawaz and clarified there was nothing wrong in the conversations as neither any favor was sought nor given.

PM’s audio leaks

The series of audio leaks started last week, on Saturday when an audio recording said to be of PM Sharif surfaced on the internet where he was discussing with an unidentified official the prospect of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project concerning the son-in-law of his niece, Maryam Nawaz.

Subsequently, more recordings surfaced and were shared on social media platforms by various PTI leaders. Those leaks concerned Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.

Earlier this week, on Monday, some more audio clips were disclosed wherein allegedly top PML-N leaders were planning the by-elections that were recently postponed due to floods.

PTI leadership calls for investigation

Imran Khan’s party PTI raised questions about the audio leak while demanding a detailed investigation of the 100 hours-long conversations of the PM that were uploaded on the dark web.

Mirza Shahzad Akbar, PM’s aide on accountability during PTI’s tenure, said the audio leak scandal was not a hacking but definitely an inside job with the aim to influence the government’s decision-making ahead of the crucial appointment.

“First it’s not a hack into the system [and] hacker [and] dark web seems cover story, our systems are based on analog and not digital, in fact, that’s one way of Pak cyber security,” he said while sharing his sources-based information on the matter.

Likewise, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari also questioned the audio leak. “Who ordered the bugging of PMO and PM House which allowed hacking and leaks?” She further added, “This is totally illegal. Cabinet violating its official secrets act plus PM/Min oath of office.”

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