THE new instalment of the ongoing ‘audio leaks’ saga shows just how deep the rot is. It indicates that politics will continue to be played at any cost, and that certain powerful elements remain hell-bent on indulging in the usual games rather than confronting the multiple crises facing this country.
The new leaks purportedly feature a conversation between two women, one the mother-in-law of a serving Supreme Court judge, and the other the wife of a politician. The women, who are private citizens, appear to be discussing political matters, praising the chief justice for standing his ground, and also wondering out loud why martial law has not been imposed in the country.
On social media, this conversation, like similar exchanges before it, has been dissected, praised, condemned and even dubbed as ‘evidence’ of wrongdoing on part of the judiciary. In engaging in all of this political speculation and chatter, members of the public appear to have missed the forest for the trees.
This practice, which we have come to accept, constitutes, in fact, the surveillance of private citizens and public officials — an act that violates Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the dignity of man and privacy of home.
For a very long time now, certain quarters have relished opportunities to spy on private citizens and public officials. These audio leaks are an example of how, in the present day, such surveillance is used to manipulate people, mostly public officials.
The intention is to ‘control’ them or shape a particular narrative. In the past, even the Prime Minister’s Office has not been spared such unethical surveillance. Ironically, both opposition leader Imran Khan and PM Shehbaz Sharif have been victims of this practice, yet it persists.
The PTI is calling for an investigation into the fresh leaks, and has appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene in order to put an end to this obnoxious trend. It is unfortunate that, as is often the case these days, no one is looking to parliament to bring legislation to that effect.
In fact, our laws seem to be deliberately vague and open-ended to allow certain agencies to engage in the surveillance of public officials ‘in the national interest’.
The priorities and mindset of those spearheading these surveillance exercises are disturbing. Those engaging in this undemocratic practice are conveniently hiding in the background, yet very much attempting to manipulate the game.
Right now, the PTI is the target of such leaks, but its opponents should not rejoice, because, as the rules of this twisted playbook go, they can be the next victim.
Our politicians should condemn and reject such leaks with one voice, regardless of the intended target, because they violate the dignity of all — ordinary citizens as well as politicians and other public figures.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2023