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EditorialThe never-ending audio leaks saga

The never-ending audio leaks saga

The latest telephonic conversation leaked on social media during the Eid holidays has once again stirred a debate on how safe our private conversations are. The issue is trending on Twitter, with various people adding their two cents on the issue. The audio clip, purportedly of the mother-in-law of Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and the wife of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Khawaja Tariq Raheem, has been making the rounds on the internet. Both women can be heard talking about their concern for the chief justice, elections, and their resentment towards the present government.

Amid this latest hack, calls for investigations into the audio leak have gotten louder, and the Supreme Court has been urged to take notice. Several conversations have surfaced in the recent past both with government and opposition personalities. Among them were audios allegedly of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Bushra Bibi, Zulfi Bukhari, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, and others. The debate has focused on the lack of security about telephonic hacks in government offices, especially the Prime Minister’s Office.

PM Sharif had called the audio leaks a “very serious lapse” and ordered the setting up of a committee to investigate the matter. The PTI, too, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding investigations into the audio leaks.

The latest clip has been widely shared, and various political figures and social media users are using it to their benefit. Shehbaz Gill, in his tweet, said that if those recording conversations record the conversations of their mothers and sisters, they will find them saying the same thing.

Similarly, PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, and others condemned the audio leak and called on the Supreme Court to take action. In his tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said: “When audios from the Prime Minister’s Office and Prime Minister’s House were released, we repeatedly requested the Supreme Court to look into this series. If the office of the prime minister is not secure and audios are being recorded there, then how will anyone else in the country be safe?”

He further said that judges, politicians, civil servants, and even housewives were becoming victims of this third-class thinking, and no one could do anything about it. Similarly, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted, “Time for SC to move against such audio tapping, which is illegal. Sick minds!”

Reacting to the audio leak, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said this was a matter of fundamental rights.

“I want to tell the SC today that my petition [on the matter] has been lying in the court for the last eight months,” the former prime minister said, adding that his conversations as prime minister were recorded and released.

“The Supreme Court should now take a step on it,” Mr Khan said. On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ( PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, in her tweet, expressed her concern and said that decisions were being made based on the likes and dislikes of wives and mothers-in-law, rather than based on the Constitution and law.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah demanded that suo motu notice should be taken of the latest audio leak and a forensic audit be conducted. Whatever the case, the leak of private conversations is absolutely against fundamental rights. And this trend has picked up in recent years.

The relevant authorities need to look into the matter and put an end to this damaging trend once and for all. Whether it be politicians from either side of the aisle or important personalities, everyone has a right to privacy, which should not be invaded.

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