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Audio leaks from PMO put Pak in a tizzy; PM Sharif calls for NSC meet

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Islamabad, Sep 27: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Wednesday to deliberate on the audio leaks from the Prime Minister's Office that has trigged a controversy with the Opposition demanding his resignation.

A slew of audio recordings featuring confidential conversations of the prime minister with high-government officials surfaced on social media last week, raising questions about the security of the highest office of the country.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

More audio clips were leaked on Monday where top PML-N leaders were purportedly heard making strategies about the by-elections that were recently postponed due to the devastating floods.

A joint investigation team (JIT) with a representative from Army-run intelligence agencies was ordered to probe the issue. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is also investigating the leaks. Officials said an initial report by the top intelligence agencies has been prepared which will be placed before the NSC -- the highest civil-military body on security affairs.

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According to an official statement issued on Monday, the NSC meeting will take place at the PM House on Wednesday, the Express Tribune newspaper reported. The top military and civilian leadership, including defence minister, interior minister, information minister, finance minister and other important cabinet members will participate in the meeting, it said.

On Monday, ousted prime minister Imran Khan demanded the resignation of his successor Sharif over the issue. "PM Shehbaz Sharif should resign after the audio leaks involving him, some Cabinet members and government officials have surfaced," Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chairman, said.

Meanwhile, Inte­rior Minister Rana Sana­ullah raised a few eyebrows when he attempted to downplay the possibility of hacking, calling it a “storm in a teacup”, the Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday. He suggested there was nothing to be concerned about if it was mere “hacking of mobile phones”. He, however, did call it a serious security breach if anyone had bugged the PM House.

“If it is bugging...then it is a serious issue to ascertain how the device was planted and who is behind it. If it is true, stern action will be taken against those involved in it,” Sana­ullah stressed. However, he said, if it was just "simple hacking" of mobile phones of some people who may have visited the PM House then it was nothing serious. “In this case, some waiter or any other staff member of the PM House may be involved.

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We will punish them according to the law,” he maintained. The minister said the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have completed their initial inquiry into the matter and their heads would apprise the prime minister of the findings in the NSC meeting. He casually remarked that anyone’s mobile phone, including his own or PM Sharif’s, could be hacked in today’s world, the Dawn report said. “But in this case, the government will take measures to prevent such hacking in the future,” he added.

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