The recent leak of a series of audio clips from Pakistan Prime Minister's Office has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition leader and former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhury on September 26, 2022.
Addressing a press conference, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Mr. Chaudhury raised serious concerns over the PMO's security after the leaked audio clips surfaced on social media on Sunday in which Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some key members of the federal cabinet were heard discussing governance matters.
Stressing the seriousness of the matter, Mr. Chaudhury said that "phone tapping had unfortunately become a common occurrence in Pakistan and is a “national security crisis” in the country.
"This shows that the PMO is quite weak in terms of cybersecurity and anything can be leaked from there," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
The ex-minister further claimed that the hacker who allegedly leaked these audios had more important audios which are yet to surface.
Criticising Prime Minister Shehbaz and the PML-N, the ex-minister accused them of “not being able to run the government” effectively.
“We are going to place these audios before the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” he said, demanding an independent probe.
He also demanded an official statement from the government on the issue. Pakistan has seen many governments being caught up in audio and video leak scandals but there has never been a thorough investigation.
In the latest leaked audio clip, an alleged voice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is heard to be informing “a government official” about Maryam Nawaz — Prime Minister Shehbaz's niece who supposedly holds quite an influence in the government to be looking to import machinery from India for a power plant, on the request of her son-in-law Raheel, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Chaudhry further demanded that action be taken against Shehbaz for allegedly facilitating the procurement of machinery from India at his relative's insistence.
“A new National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference must be filed against the prime minister for the alleged misuse of authority. I also ask the National Assembly speaker to summon the premier and other Members of the National Assembly before the privilege committee to answer about it,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government has not yet ordered any inquiry into the leaks though, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the premier would look into it and might order an inquiry on his return from London.
“The decision to hold an inquiry into the audio leaks will be taken by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif once he returns to Pakistan,” the government’s spokesperson said via phone from London, without denying the authenticity of the leaked audios, the Express Tribune quoted her as saying.