The leaks have restarted after a week’s hiatus. On Friday, two fresh tapes supposedly revealing former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s private chats about his government’s “numbers” in parliament as well as his party’s strategy on the ‘Cablegate’ incident surfaced on social media.
In the first tape, which was made public in the afternoon, a person identified as the PTI chairman expresses anxiety to an unidentified person or persons about not having enough votes to win the “numbers game,” and says he is considering actions that he “cannot discuss in public.” The same video also features what appears to be Mr Khan claiming to have bought five votes while encouraging his party to do “whatever it takes” to swing more votes.
The second video, which leaked late in the evening, supposedly shows PTI bigwigs Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar discussing how the party would use the Cablegate encryption with Mr Khan. They intend to label people who may vote against the PTI head as ‘Mir Jafars’ and ‘Mir Sadiqs.’ The leaders debate how to gain support for their story, while a voice claiming to be Mr. Khan says the public should be “spoon-fed” the party’s stance “because their minds are fertile.”
In response to the first leak, Imran Khan accused PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz of making “deepfake” audios, calling it “her party’s specialty,” during an afternoon jalsa in Mianwali. He also claimed that certain ‘deepfake’ footage would be released shortly, and warned that his party could produce such audio and video if it so desired.
Whatever the case may be, it is important to remember that, while the audios have given people something to speak about, nothing in any of the leaked audios would cause anyone serious harm whether from the PML-N or the PTI. They may have caused some people embarrassment, but that is all. That begs the question: if whoever is ‘leaking’ these audios have enough material to cherry-pick sections merely to embarrass Mr Khan, why aren’t they going for the jugular? Is this blackmail or a thousand cuts to the heart?
Soon after the crisis began yesterday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that an inquiry into the PM Office’s security had revealed that no foreign or domestic intelligence agency was involved in the disclosures. Instead, he maintained that the recordings were the result of individuals or hackers eavesdropping on phone conversations.
That sounds more like a sloppy cover-up than a realistic explanation for how two sitting Pakistani prime ministers ended up being illegally surveilled and having their private dealings disclosed to the public, according to the interior minister. Are our security agencies so inadequate that they couldn’t prevent some ‘hackers’ from breaking the protection of the PM Office? If true, it’s quite embarrassing.