Pakistan News

Defence ministry denies any role in audio leak affair

ISLAMABAD: The defence ministry has denied any involvement in the recording and leaking of telephone conversations between government officials and other prominent personalities.

The ministry made this statement on Monday in its response submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which was hearing petitions filed by former first lady Bushra Bibi and Najam Saqib, the son of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

The two were allegedly featured in purported telephonic conversations, recordings of which were leaked on social media.

The interior ministry and Pakistan Telecommunication Aut­ho­rity also submitted their replies before the IHC.

Justice Babar Sattar, who was hearing the case, remarked that the replies show the government has no means to record telephonic conversations.

He sought a detailed report from the government and warned the court could implead Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelli­gence, Intelligence Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency as respondents in the case.

The reply by the government submitted in the court was termed unsatisfactory by the judge.

Bushra Bibi’s counsel told the court that FIA had summoned the former first lady multiple times for her voice-matching test after which she filed the appeal seeking a restraining order.

Justice Sattar observed he could not stop an ongoing inquiry and suggested to the counsel he could file a petition against any violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner.

During the previous hearing on Tuesday, the court clubbed separate petitions filed by Mr Saqib and Ms Bushra.

The wife of former PM Imran Khan had petitioned seeking a restraining order against the FIA’s ongoing probe into her purported leaked audio with PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari regarding the sale of Toshakhana gifts.

In his petition, Mr Saqib had challenged the parliamentary proceedings against him over the alleged audio where he purportedly sought a bribe from a candidate for PTI’s ticket for the Punjab Assembly elections.

Ms Bushra had also criticised the media for broadcasting the leaked conversation and claimed that it tarnished her reputation.

Her petition stated, “the alleged audio leaks and ulteriorly motivated discussions on the electronic and print media were orchestrated and manoeuvred in order to impair the dignity, integrity and reputation of the petitioner and her husband, the then prime minister of Pakistan.”

The audio was being aired in connivance with the electronic media and law enforcement agencies, which is a violation of Article 4 of the Constitution, she stated in the petition.

The petition cited a judgement of the Supreme Court that stated that the “federal government or any other state agency has no authority or jurisdiction to record private conversations between citizens and undertake their surveillance.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023

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