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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar has said that the government will exercise constitutional and legal options to ensure cyber security and avert audio leaks like incidents.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, he said immediate steps have been taken by the state institutions by revisiting standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure full security of important places following the emergence of audio leaks.

Tarar said that talks regarding a “cleansing” process were underway, saying that the government was considering steps that should be taken in the future in this connection. He explained that basic SOPs were already in place for “sensitive buildings”, adding that orders have further been given to make security measures effective and prevent any such breaches in the future. “It will be an effort to introduce a culture and environment, not just in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), but in all departments where you can ensure that sensitive information will not be leaked.”

The minister said that the PM after his arrival from the United Nations visit has had various meetings with relevant departments as a part of consultations to form a committee to probe into the matter. He said the committee to be headed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah will have representation from all security agencies. The minister said former PM Imran Khan compromised the country’s interest for his politics in cipher case, saying that even the Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared that the cipher was not a conspiracy.

He said that state institutions have taken steps to secure the PMO and changed some SOPs after multiple audio leaks featuring the incumbent prime minister surfaced on social media.

Leaked audiotapes: Rana-led body likely to probe deeper

The minister said that the National Security Committee already has decided to probe the audio leaks and formed a high-level forum for this purpose, which is headed by Interior Minister Sanaullah.

While further elaborating on security measures taken in wake of the leaks,the law minister said, “Our state institutions have carried out an exercise to secure the PMO, ensure security”. “Some SOPs have been changed which I think is a government responsibility as oftentimes many sensitive matters are discussed in such places and there should be an environment where you are 100 per cent satisfied that you’re making national decisions in a secure environment,” he told reporters.

The law minister denounced the reports that the PM was considering to stay some where else other than the PMO andcalled the rumours baseless. Tarar also castigated the PTI chief over the audio leak. “The painful thing is, when you’re in high constitutional offices, more than the political interest, your oath makes you bound to take decisions in the greater national interest,” he said.

The law minister said that the government will want to further investigate the matter and then decide on exercising any legal or constitutional actions so “in the future, no person in any office can impose their own opinion on matters of national security and sensitive issues to expose matters such that it harms the state”.

He said Imran had played a “dangerous game” with the country, adding that then principal secretary Azam Khan should have realised he was a state servant and not advanced a political party’s agenda. “It would’ve been much better if he made Imran understand that this is not an issue that can be played with, instead he should have shut it down and told the Foreign Office to do whatever appropriate action since it is its domain,” Tarar added.

On this Saturday past, a recording of Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif started doing rounds where he was discussing with an official the possibility of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project that was a concern of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, Raheel. The PM’s audio leak was followed by another audio leak on Sunday, which was shared on social media by several PTI leaders, in connection with former finance minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly. While on Wednesday, another leak surfaced involving former prime minister Imran Khan and his principal secretary talking about the cypher.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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