In response to many audio leaks depicting the current prime minister that appeared on social media, state institutions have taken steps to secure the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and amended some standard operating procedures (SOPs), according to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Thursday.
On Saturday, a recording of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talking with an unnamed official about the potential for expediting the import of Indian machinery for a power project that concerned Raheel Sharif, the son-in-law of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif, began circulating.
On Sunday, more recordings about the resignations of PTI MPs from the National Assembly and former finance minister Miftah Ismail’s were made public and circulated on social media by many PTI leaders.
Another leak appeared a day earlier, but this one involved the former prime minister Imran Khan and his much-touted “threat cypher.”
The National Security Committee then resolved at a meeting on Wednesday to look into the audio leaks and established a high-level forum for this purpose under the direction of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
At a press conference today, the law minister explained the security measures put in place as a result of the leaks, saying, “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.
Tarar stated that discussions about a “cleaning” process were in progress and added that the government was considering the best course of action going forward.
Basic SOPs for “critical buildings” were already in place, he said, adding that additional orders had been given to make security measures effective and stop future breaches.
“It will be an effort to introduce a culture and environment, not just in the PMO, but in all departments where you can ensure that sensitive information will not be leaked.”
The law minister discredited and labelled as “baseless” rumours that the prime minister was considering staying somewhere other than the PMO.
Tarar also criticised the PTI leader for the audio leak from yesterday.
“The unpleasant thing is that your oath makes you bound to take judgments in the broader national interest when you’re in high constitutional offices, more than the partisan interest,” he remarked.
In order to ensure that “no person in any office can in the future impose their own opinion on matters of national security and sensitive issues to expose matters in such a way that it harms the state,” the law minister stated that the government will want to further investigate the situation before deciding whether to take any legal or constitutional actions.
He added that then-principal secretary Azam Khan should have realised he was a public servant and not furthered a political party’s cause, saying Imran had played a “dangerous game” with the nation.
The Foreign Office should take whatever proper action is necessary because it is within its purview, Tarar continued. “It would have been lot better if he made Imran understand that this is not a matter that can be messed with, instead of shutting it down,” Tarar said.