- Leaked audiotapes allegedly feature PM Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and PM’s other close aides including some members of his cabinet
ISLAMABAD: In what is being dubbed as a potentially problematic scenario for the federal government, several audiotapes allegedly featuring members of the ruling coalition - Sharif family and other Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leaders in particular - have surfaced that have drawn the attention of public and political circles for all the wrong reasons.
The audiotapes of more than 100 hours of call time and 8 gigabytes space have surfaced on the social media over the past two days.
In the context of this controversy, “8GB” was one of the leading Twitter trends in Pakistan on Sunday.
The leaked audiotapes allegedly feature Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and PM’s other close aides including some members of his cabinet wherein they can be allegedly heard making plans to politically dent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), besides discussing some questionable government projects and other controversial issues that have attracted immense backlash.
Questions are being raised over the cyber security of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) from where these audiotapes were allegedly leaked.
The PMO has kept a mum over the issue and has not responded to the audiotapes controversy till the filing of this report.
Other senior federal government functionaries also did not immediately share their views over the matter.
Later, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb, in an apparently cautious reaction, defended the audiotapes, implying to admit that these tapes were authentic.
“Unlike Imran Khan, the PM did not demand any piece of land in these audiotapes,” she said in a statement.
“The audiotapes prove that nothing illegal has been done (by federal government). Nobody has been illegally benefited,” she added.
She said a power plant was imported from India under the policy of former federal government of Imran Khan. In one audiotape, the PM allegedly tells his Secretary Tauqir Shah that he has been asked by Maryam Nawaz to allow the import of power plant machinery from India for her son-in-law. Allegedly, the secretary to PM opposes this move, saying it would draw massive “flak.”
In other audio clip, Maryam can be allegedly heard criticising Finance Minister Miftah Ismail over hike in electricity and fuel prices and his other economic policies. Maryam can also be heard allegedly supporting the return of Ishaq Dar from the United Kingdom to Pakistan to manage the latter’s economic affairs.
In yet another such tape, four federal ministers - Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Law Minister Azam Tarar and Economic Affairs Minister Ayaz Sadiq - can allegedly be heard making “plans” to get the resignations of the PTI lawmakers accepted (by speaker National Assembly). The interior minister can allegedly be heard informing his colleagues that he would get the resignations of seven to eight PTI lawmakers accepted after getting approval from “Mian Sahib” – an obvious reference to Nawaz Sharif.
Interestingly, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari did not offer any reaction on the audiotapes controversy.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman termed as “deeply concerning” the alleged leak of the audiotapes from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Addressing a presser in Multan, he said that “strict action” needs to be initiated by the PM against the elements behind the leaked tapes.
On the other hand, PTI lambasted the PM, his federal government and Sharif family over the alleged audiotapes. Senior Vice President PTI Fawad Chaudhry said on Twitter that the issue of PTI lawmakers’ resignation from NA would be “brought on record before SC (Supreme Court.)”
In another tweet, he deplored, “The way the data of the office of Pakistan’s prime minister has been put up for sale on the Dark Web… exposes the reality of our cyber security. This is the total failure of our intelligence agencies, especially the IB (Intelligence Bureau.) Obviously, the conversations not only on politics but also on security and foreign affairs are in everybody’s hands now.” Senior PTI leader Imran Ismail demanded of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to resign for “colluding with government functionaries against PTI”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022