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‘Facilitate Import of Machinery from India’: Pak NSC Summoned as Leaked Audio Puts Sharif in Tight Spot

Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has called a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) as more audio clips of conversations held between the prime minister and other ministers and officials of the Pakistan Prime Minister Office (PMO) surfaced online.

The meeting will be held later this week. Sharif also set up a joint investigation team (JIT). Pakistan news agency Dawn said that Pakistan’s top intelligence agencies have completed an initial inquiry whose report will be presented to the NSC in the upcoming meeting.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has increased its criticism of the coalition government. A purported conversation between Shehbaz Sharif and a government official where they discuss Maryam Nawaz Sharif asking the official to facilitate her son-in-law Raheel with the import of machinery for a power plant, from India, has created controversy.

“The son-in-law is very dear to Maryam Nawaz. Tell her very logically about this and then I will talk to her,” the voice which is thought to belong to Sharif is heard as saying, the Dawn reported. The voice also said that it is bad for optics.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif is the daughter of former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.

Even though the prime minister in the recording shared by PTI leaders does not explicitly indicate any wrongdoing, the opposition alleged that Sharif was putting his family’s business interests before those of the state.

Discussions related to the stepping down of Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly were also released on social media. There were also discussions on the appointment of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chiefs and a grid station had to be installed in the Ittehad Park Housing Society.

Information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has not offered any reaction to the clips and said this goes on to show ‘nothing illegal happened’.

However, the incident has alarmed the entire political spectrum and Pakistani citizens are also concerned regarding the state of cybersecurity at the PMO.

Meanwhile, interior minister Rana Sana­ullah’s reaction has caught many in the ruling coalition by surprise. He said the incident was a ‘mere’ case of hacking of mobile phones. He said it was ‘a storm in a teacup’, according to a report by the Dawn.

“If it is bugging… then it is a serious issue to ascertain how the device was planted and who is behind it. If it is true, stern action will be taken,” Sanaullah further added while speaking to a Pakistani news channel on Monday evening but he suggested that if the incident ‘was just ‘simple hacking of mobile phones of some people who may have visited the PM House’ then it is not serious.

Pakistani cybersecurity experts told Dawn that it was indeed a serious issue and the leadership may have been misled by some officials who will likely face the music once the investigation reveals lapses on their part.

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