Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Thursday said that state institutions have taken steps to secure the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and changed some standard operating procedures (SOPs) after multiple audio leaks featuring the incumbent prime minister surfaced on social media.
On Saturday, a recording of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif started doing rounds where he was discussing with an unidentified 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.
On Sunday, further recordings surfaced, which were shared on social media by several PTI leaders, concerning former finance minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly. A day ago, another leak surfaced but this time, former prime minister Imran Khan and his much-touted ‘threat cypher’ were the subject of the leaked clip.
Subsequently, in a meeting on Wednesday, the National Security Committee decided to probe the audio leaks and formed a high-level forum for this purpose, which will be led by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
Elaborating on security measures taken in wake of the leaks at a press conference today, 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.
Tarar said that talks regarding a “cleansing” process were underway, elaborating that the government was mulling on steps that should be taken in the future.
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 PMO, but in all departments where you can ensure that sensitive information will not be leaked.”
The law minister rubbished reports of the prime minister considering staying somewhere else other than the PMO and called the rumours “baseless”.
Tarar also castigated the PTI chief over yesterday’s 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.