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Friday December 02, 2022

Govt includes ISI, IB DGs in high-level committee formed to probe PM House audio leaks

Committee tasked to investigate PM House cyber security breach to be headed by Interior Minister Interior Sanaullah

By Azaz Syed
October 04, 2022
An aerial photo released by the PTI of the 1,100 canal Prime Minister House in Islamabad. — Facebook
An aerial photo released by the PTI of the 1,100 canal Prime Minister House in Islamabad. — Facebook

ISLAMABAD: The federal government Tuesday formed a high-powered committee to investigate the soundbites leaked from the Prime Minister's House.

According to a notification from the  Cabinet Division, the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (DG IB) have been included in the committee.

The committee, comprising federal ministers Sherry Rehman, Asad Mehmood, Aminul Haque, and Azam Nazeer Tarrar, will be headed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

Cabinet Division's secretary, DG ISI or his representative, DG IB, National Telecommunication and Information Security Board's secretary, and technical experts from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, and ISI will also be included in the committee.

The committee has been tasked to oversee and review the investigation into the cyber security breach and ensure that it covers all important aspects of the matter. It has also been asked to suggest measures to improve the protocols within seven days.

The group will also revisit the existing e-safety and cyber security procedures; broadly evaluate the existing capacity and vulnerabilities of government departments; reassess the risks associated with various electronic gadgets, and suggest measures to develop the resilience of government offices against cyber-attacks within 15 days, the notification said.

In particular, it has been asked to submit short and medium-term recommendations for securing the sensitive data and information technology environment of important ministries and offices of strategic importance in the next 15 days.

"[The committee will] prepare a draft legal framework for developing a robust and secure cyber ecosystem that ensures seamless cyber security of government offices," the notification said.

The committee has been directed to complete the aforementioned tasks in the prescribed time duration, the notification said.

The audio leak saga

Several audios have been leaked online in a span of eight days — three of the incumbent government and two of PTI.

The first was leaked last Saturday, which allegedly featured PM Shehbaz Sharif and a senior official. It contained a discussion regarding PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz asking for a power plant from India to be imported for her son-in-law.

Later on Sunday, two more audios were leaked on social media. One of them was related to a discussion about the PTI's resignation and another was about former finance minister Miftah Ismail.

The first audio related to PTI was leaked on September 28, in which former prime minister Imran Khan allegedly told his then-principal secretary Azam Khan to "play" with the US cypher.

The second PTI audio leak came to the fore Friday, which exposed Khan's conspiracy narrative.

In the latest audio, the then-prime minister Khan, ex-minister Asad Umar, and the then-principle secretary Azam could allegedly be heard discussing the US cypher in a meeting and how to use it in their interest.

Following the back-to-back leaks, the National Security Council (NSC) approved the formation of a high-level committee under the leadership of Sanauallah to investigate the matter of the audio leaks.

In its meeting just a day after, the federal cabinet also endorsed NSC's decision to conduct a thorough investigation into the issue.