Concerns of cyber security have rocked Pakistan after three audio clips involving sensitive conversations of top government officials and ministers, including the prime minister, were found on sale on the dark web, according to reports.
The most alarming among the clips is one having Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leaders about a minister in the government which apparently got leaked from within the PM House.
The other audio clips feature conversations of high-profile meetings, believed to be of interior minister Rana Sanullah, defence minister Khawaja Asif, law minister Azam Tarar and minister for economic affairs Ayaz Sadiq.
The ministers were apparently talking about the fate of finance minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers from the national assembly.
“One of the audio clips is purportedly about a conversation between PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif about finance minister Miftah Ismail,” according to a report.
“The two clips followed another a day earlier involving PM Shehbaz and the unidentified official who is talking about Maryam’s wish that her son-in-law should be allowed to import some machinery from India,” the report claimed.
Who Is Behind The Audio Leak On Dark Web?
According to reports, the audio clips were placed for sale online by a hacker who uses the id ‘indishell’.
The id is the namesake of a group of Indian hackers who have been targeting Pakistani websites since 2007. So far, this is the only information about the suspects behind the leak.
Size Of Clips
The first and the third audio clips are around two minutes long each.
The second clip is 12 minutes and 40 seconds long. It has been further shortened into six parts with an objective to make it easier for sharing on social media platforms.
The audio samples were shared on Twitter by a user who goes by @ze_lucy on September 3, but these went unnoticed.
The minimum bid for the 8GB audio was 180 bitcoins or $20,000 on September 3, according to reports.
Reaction In Pakistan
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is the party of former prime minister and cricket legend Imran Khan. His party has now trained guns on the government, holding it accountable for the audio leaks.
The mercurial response comes amid the hacker’s claims of having clips against Khan and the all powerful army chief of Pakistan too.
Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister of Imran Khan’s PTI, has alleged that the ruling party is “more interested in safeguarding family affairs”.
“Since the data was offered up for sale on the dark web, it shows the state of the country’s cybersecurity,” Chaudhary was quoted in a news report.
“This is a failure of our intelligence agencies, especially the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Obviously, apart from political issues, important discussions on security and foreign issues are now in everyone’s hands,” he said.
Shireen Mazari, former human rights minister in the PTI government, said the leaked audios certainly “reveal the influence of convict Nawaz Sharif” and his convict-on-bail daughter Maryam Nawaz in the running of this imported government itself a “cabal of crooks”.
She added that the “real issue” was who bugged the PMO or the Prime Minister House in the first place.
“The hacking happened because devices were placed in these locations. So who is responsible and where did orders or decisions come from? That is a question that must also be focused on,” she said.
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