Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday announced that a high-level committee would be constituted to probe the embarrassing audio leaks from the Prime Minister's Office that have triggered a controversy, with the Opposition demanding his resignation.
A slew of audio recordings featuring confidential conversations of the prime minister with high-government officials surfaced on social media last week, raising questions about the security of the highest office of the country.
I am taking notice of this and a committee will be formed to reach the depth of this matter, Sharif said.
Terming the leaks as a very serious lapse which left a big question mark on security, he said that now people would think before visiting the PM House.
Who will come to meet the prime minister at the PM House now? Be it a sympathiser or a friend, they will think 100 times before talking. This is about the respect of the 220 million people of the country, he said.
A string of videos showed that secret meetings were being taped. One such clip showed Sharif and his principal secretary Tauqeer Shah talking about importing machinery from India for the son-in-law of Maryam Nawaz, the niece of the prime minister.
In his press conference, the prime minister said that Maryam never talked to him about any favours for her son-in-law.
Dr Tauqeer spoke to me about it and said half of the machinery was imported during the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf) tenure. I don't know what amount was spent and how much loss they will have to bear if half the machinery is left. Dr Tauqeer told me that the provision is banned and it will have to be taken to the ECC (Economic Coordination Committee), he said.
Sharif explained that he didn't find it appropriate to take the matter to the Cabinet.
I said I will convey this to my daughter (niece Maryam). Now tell me what is wrong with this? he questioned.
He also said that several audios surfaced against former premier Imran Khan during his government but nothing was done or questions asked from him.
Already a joint investigation team (JIT) with a representative from the Army-run intelligence agencies was ordered to probe the issue. The Intelligence Bureau also investigated the leaks.
Earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Sharif has called a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) this week to deliberate on the audio leaks.
Due to the gravity of the situation, the prime minister has called a meeting of the National Security Committee on Tuesday which will be attended by the top civil and military leadership, Interior Minister Sanaullah told a TV talk show on Monday night.
Officials had said that an initial report by the top intelligence agencies has been prepared which will be placed before the NSC - the highest civil-military body on security affairs.
Sources said that the NSC meeting may be delayed after the announcement by the prime minister to set up a panel to probe the issue.
He suggested there was nothing to be concerned about if it was mere hacking of mobile phones.
He, however, did call it a serious security breach if anyone had bugged the PM House.
If it is bugging then it is a serious issue to ascertain how the device was planted and who is behind it. If it is true, stern action will be taken against those involved in it, he stressed.
However, he said, if it was just simple hacking' of mobile phones of some people who may have visited the PM House then it was nothing serious.
In this case, some waiter or any other staff member of the PM House may be involved. We will punish them according to the law, he maintained.
The minister said as per his information, the Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence had completed their initial inquiry into the matter and their heads would apprise the prime minister of the findings in the NSC meeting.
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First Published: Sep 27 2022 | 9:04 PM IST