PTI chief Imran Khan filed a plea in the Supreme Court on Thursday, seeking the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) or a judicial commission to probe the "illegal" surveillance, recording and release of data, including audio recordings, from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

A series of audio recordings have surfaced of late, allegedly featuring the leadership of the PTI and PML-N holding informal conversations never meant to be heard by the public.

Imran, who is among those purportedly featured in the controversial audio clips, had said earlier this month that his party would approach courts to establish the "authenticity" of the recently leaked audio tapes and have a JIT constituted to bring to light those responsible for the bugging of the PMO.

In his petition filed today, the former prime minister moved the apex court for the formation of a JIT or judicial commission "for undertaking a detailed probe and investigation into the illegal surveillance, recording, retention, custody and release/leaking of the surveillance data, with directions to determine the authenticity of the audio leaks and to identify and bring to task and punish the persons responsible for authorising and conducting the illegal surveillance, and the collection and subsequent release of the surveillance data, including the audio leaks".

He also urged the court to issue a continuing mandamus — a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty — "to supervise the whole process so as to ensure that the JIT or the commission completes its task in a satisfactory manner, the illegal surveillance is put to a permanent end, the surveillance data is identified, retrieved, secured and then destroyed, if need be, and appropriate action taken against the culprits".

Imran further requested the court to declare the "illegal surveillance of the PMO and PMH (Prime Minister's House) and the release of surveillance data, especially through the audio leaks, unconstitutional and in violation of law".

He also sought instructions for the government and relevant agencies to take steps for preventing the release, publication, dissemination, sharing, broadcast and spread of any of the surveillance data, including the further use of audio leaks.

The Federation of Pakistan, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority have been nominated as respondents in the plea.

Leaks reveal massive breach in security at PM Office

Imran's petition has been filed nearly a month after the first audio recording linked to the PMO surfaced in September.

What began as an alleged and potentially embarrassing audio leak seems to have turned into an all-out national security incident as a slew of audio recordings of conversations between key government figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some members of the federal cabinet — were released last month.

The content of the recordings appear to be informal conversations in the PM Office — as opposed to recorded phone conversations.

First, a recording of PM Shehbaz surfaced where he was discussing with an unidentified official the possibility of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project that was a concern of Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, Raheel.

Further recordings surfaced a day later, which were shared on social media by several PTI leaders, concerning former finance minister Miftah Ismail and the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.

One clip purportedly features a conversation between PML-N Vice President Maryam and the premier about Miftah, wherein a voice thought to belong to the former says he “doesn’t know what he is doing” and wishes for the return of PML-N stalwart Ishaq Dar.

A second clip allegedly concerns a conversation between the prime minister, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq about the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly.

A third clip purportedly features a conversation between Maryam Nawaz and PM Shehbaz regarding the return of former army chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

It followed an audio clip purportedly revealing a conversation between former PM Imran and then-principal secretary Azam Khan about the cipher — shared by Asad Majeed, the then envoy to the US — which Imran has used to peddle his foreign conspiracy narrative.

In the clip, the former prime minister allegedly tells Azam to “play up” the cipher and turn it into a foreign plot to oust his government but adds that there is no need to name any country.

Later, another clip surfaced — supposedly a continuation of the conversation in the previous recording — purportedly featuring PTI leaders Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussing the “foreign conspiracy” cipher with the former premier and ex-principal secretary.

Then, yet another audio clip surfaced, purportedly of Imran, discussing “buying votes”, following by another recording purportedly featuring the PTI chief talking about the cipher with PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar.

More recently on last Thursday, another recording, purportedly of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, surfaced in which a voice believed to be of the premier was heard discussing the appointment of his special assistants.

PM Shehbaz has termed the surfacing of audio leaks a “very serious lapse” and announced that a high-level committee would be constituted to probe the matter.

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