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ISLAMABAD: The government’s decision to probe audio leaks of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI’s) chief Imran Khan and his close aides, purportedly discussing the US cipher will be ‘an exercise in futility’ as courts do not accept audio or video as evidence until the person who recorded these audios/videos himself presents them as witness, said security and legal expert.

The federal government has tasked Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry into audio leaks in which Khan and close aides, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, and his former principal secretary Azam Khan, purportedly discussed the cipher and decided to portray it as a threat to the PTI government and the state.

Afzal Ali Shigri, Inspector General of Police (IGP) said that FIA could investigate the technical and legal aspects of the matter. The FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing through forensic analysis of the said audio would establish that the audio is genuine or doctored, he said, adding the agency would also find who recorded that audio.

He said that on the legal side the agency investigation team would examine the criminality of the said discussion. The investigators would record the statement of Imran Khan and his close aides, the former police officer said. “Even if they prove that the audio is genuine and record statements of Khan and others, the court will not accept it as evidence as no one will be ready to own this audio,” he said.

Raja Amir Abbas, a senior lawyer concurred stating that according to the court decisions the person recording the conversation or event must produce the audio tape or video himself. If FIA tried to make a case in that regard then the court would throw it out in a single hearing, he said, adding FIA could register a case against anyone if a crime has been committed.

He said if the government considers that Official Secrets Act had been violated then the secretary ministry of interior would become a complainant in this case but he was not a complainant in this matter.

According to a cabinet division document, the cabinet in its meeting held on September 30, constituted a sub-committee to deliberate and recommend actions regarding the conversation of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, his political associates and the then Secretary to the Prime Minister, available on the internet regarding the Cypher Message received from Parep Washington (Cypher No I-0678 dated 7th March 2022) (Annex-l).

The sub-committee of the cabinet held its meeting on September 30 and recommended that “it is a matter of national security, which is/was pre-judicial to national interest and needs legal action. Therefore, the apex investigation agency (FIA) may be directed to inquire into the matter by constituting a team of senior officers, which may co-opt officers/officials from other intelligence agencies for the purpose and to proceed further against the perpetrators in accordance with the law”.

A FIA official said the agency had so far not constituted its team for investigating the audio leaks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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