What began as ‘happy hours’ have turned into happy days, weeks and months. A happy ending? Not yet.
As we get closer to the happy November, there are pressing, rather existential issues confronting Pakistan. Issues such as the uncertainty over the next army chief, the alleged London honeymoon of 78-year-old Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, the London-exiled Altaf Hussain singing his way to maafi in this season of apologies, the tale of a missing American-sazish cipher, the imminent arrest of Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi addressing 12 men in parliament, heart-to-heart session of world leaders with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif describing his predecessor Imran Khan as “narcissist”, and not to forget the curious case of a ‘hacker’ leaking audio recordings of the PM Office and promising there’s more to come.
The winter might not be here yet but the season of political hulchul has already arrived with a bang and is here to stay.
That the houses of the president and the prime minister are bugged is a secret that no one is even trying to keep a secret. Asif Ali Zardari as president had told CIA director Leon Panetta how when he walks into his office every morning he says, “Hello Ahmad”, referring to the ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha. “Ahmad knows everything I think and everything I say.”
In recent years Imran Khan has bragged about the ISI’s surveillance and how it was for his own protection. Those views have taken a U-turn now that he realises the protection wasn’t till death do us apart. There is something new in the old too. Like Bushra Imran’s leaked phone call ordering a social media worker to connect everyone with ghaddari if they speak against her and her minion Farah Gogi, who is also known as Imran’s crime master.
Then there is the leaked phone conversation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) finance ministers in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa planning to sabotage the IMF bailout deal by refusing to follow their demands.
In the latest bout, it all began with an audio leak of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s conversation with his principal secretary discussing Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s request to allow the import of machinery from India for her son-in-law. This was followed by a leaked conversation of the prime minister with some of his cabinet members talking about the resignations of PTI lawmakers. Taken aback and furious over the said security breach, PM Shehbaz ordered an investigation. “Who will now have a meeting with Pakistan’s PM?” he asked. Wait till he finds out that the preferred meetings are usually not held in the PM office but elsewhere.
Also read: Pakistan still fighting for azadi. Its soap opera has more seasons than Days of Our Lives
It’s raining leaks
Predictably, an elated Imran Khan was forecasting what more about the Sharif family could come out via audio leaks. But his wishes were dampened soon and how. Surprisingly, the ‘hacker’ had other plans. It was time for a series of audio leaks from the time Khan was in the PM office.
In a leaked three-part audio recording called ‘Cipher ki sazishi kahani’, Imran Khan is making a strategy on how to play with the much-politicised cipher. Which he claimed was evidence of the United States conspiring a regime change against his government.
امریکی سازش کی اصل کہانی ۔۔۔۔ سائفر سے کھیلنا ۔ پارٹ تھری pic.twitter.com/SsVV3zBfWZ
— Saleem Safi (@SaleemKhanSafi) October 7, 2022
“Hum ne bass sirf khelna hai, naam nahin lena,” Khan tells his principal secretary who then suggests conducting a mock meeting to put the contents of the cipher in the minutes. Many times in the course of this conversation, the secretary boasts that he can freely create minutes on his own. Meaning, add whatever suits the political agenda and concoct Amreeki saazish. Laughable is the jasoosi tone Imran Khan takes on time and again: ‘humne tu amreeka ka naam lena hai nahin’. If only he was saying these lines for the next James Bond audition. ‘Main kisi ki mou se na suno ki letter kis mulk se aya hai,’ he then tells his kitchen cabinet including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari.
After having built on this cipher his entire future political capital, Imran Khan has lost the document and the current government says it is not in the PM office. This is a serious offence with a minimum three-year jail time. Imagine that for almost four years, this clown show thrived in a country that takes itself very seriously as an atomi taakat. Someone check on our bombs, they might be gayab too. Like Donald Trump took home state documents and was raided by the FBI, who knows if Imran Khan took a little more than the two thousand bottles of mineral water from the PM office.
سوال : لیٹر ہے کہاں، وہ تو بنی گالہ پر چھاپہ مارنے کا کہہ رہے ہیں
عمران نیازی : ایک میرے پاس تھا، اور وہ غائب ہوگیا، کہیں ہوگیا، مجھے نہیں پتہ. لیکن ایک آرمی چیف اور صدر کے پاس ہے pic.twitter.com/GjoKKw7pcV
— 𝔍𝔞𝔳𝔢𝔡 ℑ𝔮𝔟𝔞𝔩 (@javedeqbalpk1) October 1, 2022
There is also a Khan guide on how to spoon-feed propaganda to the people and brand opponents as Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq. As we hear “the soil is fertile right now.” During the vote of no-confidence, when Imran Khan accused Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif of horse-trading, we now find out that the great leader himself was busy buying parliamentarians, if not pakoras, according to the audio leak. Accusing opponents of wrongdoing while committing the wrong himself, that’s classic Imran Khan. After all, a vote of no-confidence is all about jihad, a battle between good and evil as long as Imran Khan is on the receiving end.
If the current PM was unscathed by the leaks with no illegal actions or promises, the former PM finds himself in a soup.
Also read: Imran Khan fans have new threat: Bring him back as PM or face anti-Bajwa hashtags
Pakistan’s own Snowden
Unlike the real Edward Snowden, this 2.0 is not Russian. Or are they? Sheikh Rasheed revealed that finding the hacker was an easy task, as the hacker doesn’t know English. That’s a start. This curious hacker is not all work and no play. The hacker has been giving solid patriotism goals by stating they won’t release stuff that will harm the country. Alhough they don’t mind leaking the ‘happy hours’ of tabdeeli ministers while dropping suggestions like ‘popcorn and chill’.
What’s more? The future leaks could be adult rated with the hacker alluding to dropping “indecent” videos of Imran Khan. The same videos that have been discussed on mainstream television. The same videos everyone and their uncles in higher places have seen. The same videos Imran Khan, since his ouster from the PM office, has been warning will release while calling them deep-fake. This is much like the haqeeqi azadi march to overthrow the government that for now has no haqeeqat to it. What is not deep-fake is this hacker who has enough content to launch his own Netflix and chill!
Naila Inayat is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)