Cell phones barred in cabinet meetings

Meeting was not held until phones were collected


Our Correspondent October 02, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Fears prompted by the all-out national security incident after Prime Minister Office audios were mysteriously leaked into the public domain remained in the air at the federal cabinet's Friday meeting as the government barred members from taking their mobile phones inside the meeting.

Sources said that the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was not held until it was ensured that the mobile phones of the cabinet members were collected outside the room.

The move is the latest measure taken by the government to prevent further security breaches after a slew of audio leaks rang alarm bells in the corridors of power, with the opposition – mainly PTI – raising questions about flaws in the cyber security of the highest office of the land.

The meeting also discussed the issue of audio leaks in detail and endorsed the decision of the National Security Committee (NSC) to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. On Wednesday, the NSC okayed the formation of a body to investigate audio leaks.

A day ago, a new standard operating procedure (SOP) was implemented at the PM House whereby staff member and an officer was disallowed from taking their mobile phone inside the building.

PM Sharif had on Tuesday at a press conference called the controversial audio leaks a serious ‘security lapse’ and said a high-powered inquiry committee would probe into the matter.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar had on Thursday maintained that the state institutions had taken measures to secure the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and changed some standard operating procedures.

Among multiple audio leaks, a voice, purported to be of PM Shehbaz, informed “a government official” about PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz looking to import machinery from India for a power plant, at the request of her son-in-law Raheel.

In another audio clip, a voice said to be of Maryam Nawaz, was heard purportedly telling the premier that she was grateful for the support of someone who had been publicising as well as gatekeeping news from the public as per her demand.

“Our state institutions have carried out an exercise to secure the PMO,” the law minister said while addressing a news conference in the federal capital.

Tarar said that discussion regarding a “cleansing process” was underway, adding that the government was pondering over the steps to be taken in future.

 

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