PM House security questioned after audio tapes leak

Interior minister says PM has taken notice of the leaks and will consult with cabinet for suitable action

ISLAMABAD     -    A cou­ple of purported audio tapes of ruling coalition including Prime Min­ister Shehbaz Sharif, leaked to social media yesterday, have sent a shocking wave putting a question mark over the secrecy of phones data as well as conversations during important meet­ings in the PM House.

An audio clip pur­portedly of a meeting at PM House featuring several government of­ficials has been leaked online. A day earlier, a leaked audio had gone viral on social media — allegedly featuring the PM — containing a discussion regarding PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz asking for a power plant from India to be imported for her son-in-law.

The officer could be heard saying that this was a matter of “grave concern” as being a rel­ative of the PM, the is­sue could “wreak havoc if it comes to the knowl­edge of the Economic Coordination Commit­tee (ECC) and then of the federal cabinet”. The voice thought to belong to the PM responded by saying that he would talk to Maryam him­self after his return from Turkey, to which the official suggested leaving the matter to former fi­nance minister Ishaq Dar. Anoth­er leaked audio tape allegedly featuring the PM, Interior Minis­ter Rana Sanaullah, Defence Min­ister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and others re­garding discussion on PTI MNAs’ resignations.

In it, PML-N leaders can al­legedly be heard giving their opinions over PTI’s resignations. They are also talking about Lon­don’s permission to accept the resignations. On the other hand, the leaked audio clips have rung alarm bells and raised serious questions about the security of the PM House.

PTI leadership has raised con­cerns regarding the security of the PM Office in the light of the recurring audio leaks.

Fawad took to Twitter and said: “This is a failure of our in­telligence agencies, especially. Obviously, apart from political issues, important discussions on security and foreign issues are now in everyone’s hands.”

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Minis­ter Taimur Khan Jhagra said that while “truth helps, [and] cleans conscience”, illegal recordings were “wrong”. Moreover, for­mer human rights minister and PTI leader Shireen Mazari also raised questions about PMO’s security in the wake of the au­dio leaks. “Who is responsible and where did orders or deci­sions come from?” to “bug” the PM House, she questioned.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaul­lah, while talking to a TV chan­nel, said yesterday that it is pre­mature to say anything concrete as the government has decided to initiate an inquiry into the in­cident. “I don’t think we should take them so seriously since this is so common,” he added.

“If the probe proves that it’s not safe to talk in the prime min­ister house and somebody has done this [spying] arrangement, then it’s really serious but it is inappropriate to say this with­out proof.”

Sanaullah did not reject the content of the audios, instead, saying that the current setup’s “good governance” was reflected through them.

He also said that the prime minister had taken notice of the leaks and would consult his cab­inet on the issue tomorrow, add­ing that the matter would be sorted out in the next few days.

On the leak where Maryam could allegedly be heard criticis­ing the finance minister, the in­terior minister said expression of opinion was allowed in demo­cratic and political systems, add­ing that Ismail was criticised by outsiders so it made no differ­ence if Maryam or some others in the PML-N did so as well.

“What was wrong if Maryam said some of his decisions cost us politically,” the minister re­marked.

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