PM announces formation of high-powered body to probe audio leaks

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced constitution of a high-powered committee to investigate audio leaks allegedly featuring the conversation of the premier with the high-profile government officials and ruling party leader Maryam Nawaz.

“This is a very important matter and this serious security lapse and breach are a big question mark then who will be willing to come to meet the prime minister [amid fears of bugging],” he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.

“Anyone will think 100 times before discussing any sensitive matter at the PM House..”

“I have taken notice and am forming a high-powered committee to investigate the matter,” he added

Responding to a question related to one of the leaked audio clips, PM Shehbaz said Maryam Nawaz – who is also his niece – did not ask for any favour from him regarding the import of her son-in-law’s power plant machinery from India.

“Dr Tauqeer told me that his [Maryam’s son-in-law Raheel] half machinery was already imported during PTI’s tenure and the other half is remaining,” he said.

“If the [import] of half of the machinery is remaining then it’s a loss. However, we did not consider it appropriate to take up this matter in the federal cabinet since the matter involves India. “There was nothing illegal in this .”

Also read: 'National security crisis': PTI demands probe into govt audio leaks

Referring to the alleged audio fiasco involving PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the premier said unlike his predecessor, he did not discuss anything about “diamonds and jewellery”.

He also asked the media to highlight the content of audio leaks which exposed the corruption of “Imran and his cronies”.

The announcement came a day after PM Shehbaz summoned the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on September 28 to discuss audio leaks.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had told a private news channel that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) had completed an initial inquiry and a report regarding the audio leaks would be presented before the NSC on Wednesday.

The audios drew sharp criticism from the opposition, which expressed concerns over the security of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). However, several government ministers insisted that the audios pointed to no wrongdoing.

Soon after the audios surfaced, there was a storm on social media, many bashing the government and expressing shock at the way sensitive audios had purportedly leaked from the PMO.

Army chief's appointment

Commenting on the controversy surrounding the next army chief’s appointment, Premier Shehbaz said he will follow the procedure laid in the Constitution and law for the appointment of the new military head.

Responding to a question on appointing the army chief with consensus, he said: “Did he [Imran Khan] consult us when he extended the tenure of the army chief? We will follow the Constitution and law.”

On criticism about discussing “sensitive matters” with ruling party supremo Nawaz Sharif in London, PM Shehbaz said he discussed matters related to the economy and others with his Quaid and added that there was nothing wrong with this.

His statement came in response to deposed prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion to defer the appointment of the new army chief until after the next elections, maintaining that the incumbent government lacked the legitimacy to make the important appointment.

‘Pakistan out of isolation’

Describing his meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) moot in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and 77th session of the UN General Assembly as “encouraging”, PM Shehbaz said Pakistan had come out of international isolation due to the efforts of the coalition government.

“By straining relations with various countries, the previous [PTI] government had put Pakistan in isolation.”

He went on to say that the way former prime minister Imran Khan used to talk about various countries was not appropriate for a nation desiring to have good relations.

“I cannot disclose here what one head of the state told me about Imran Khan’s behaviour,” he said while accusing the former PM of showing ill-manner and “arrogance” while meeting with foreign heads of state.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who arrived in Pakistan last night after his official visits to the United Kingdom and the United States, said during his recent visit to Uzbekistan to attend the SCO moot in Samarkand, the flood situation in Pakistan vis a vis climate change was highlighted.

He said that during his address to UN General Assembly, he forcefully presented Pakistan’s viewpoint and stance on the issues of Kashmir, Palestine and Islamophobia.

He said that the plight of Kashmiris in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, atrocities in IIOJK, August 5, 2019, illegal action of India in the disputed territory and treatment meted out to Muslims in India were also highlighted in the address.

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