High-powered body formed to oversee audio leaks probe

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a high-powered committee, comprising federal ministers and heads of intelligence agencies, to oversee the investigation into the leak of conversations in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), it emerged on Tuesday. Last month, a series of audio recordings of separate conversations purportedly featuring PM Shehbaz, key leaders of the ruling PML-N, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and former federal ministers surfaced on the social media. The embarrassing leaks particularly raised concerns over the security arrangements at the PM House, which is otherwise considered a highly secured place. According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division dated September 30, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah will lead the high-level committee, which comprises Minister of Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, Minister for Communications Asad Mehmood, Minister for IT and Telecommunication Aminul Haque, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general, Intelligence Bureau (IB) director general and the cabinet secretary. Technical experts from the Pakistan Telecom Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, ISI and National Information Technology Board will also reportedly be co-opted members of the probe. The committee will be responsible for overseeing and reviewing the cyber security breach at the PM Office and ensuring that it covered all aspects of the matter within seven days. The committee, it went on, would revisit existing e-safety and cyber security procedures and guidelines, broadly evaluate the existing capability and vulnerabilities of government departments and reassess the risks associated with various electronic gadgets such as tablets, smartphones, Wi-Fi and other cyber devices, “and suggest measures to develop the resilience of government offices against cyber-attacks”. Furthermore, the PM instructed the committee to make recommendations to protect sensitive data of important ministries within 15 days and draft a legal framework for a secure cyber environment of government offices.

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