Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has reiterated calls for the Supreme Court to take up his petition on “unauthorized and unverified” audio leaks for hearing at the “earliest possible opportunity.”
In a letter dated Feb. 19 and addressed to all judges of the apex court as well as Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, he said he was “compelled” to write to ensure the enforcement of the fundamental right to privacy of people under Article 14 of the Constitution. Referring to “mysterious unverified audio/video clips” that had circulated on social media in recent months, he said they appeared to be “either deep fakes or fabricated, edited, trimmed and joined, pieced together, and cannibalized to present an inaccurate and incorrect portrayal of the alleged conversations that they purport to carry.”
Referring specifically to calls that suggested the conversations were recorded at Prime Minister’s House, he said any breach of security at the “highly sensitive state installation” had a grave effect on the lives and security of the people of Pakistan. “Various ex-public officials, myself included, and even private members of the public have suffered from leaks (or release) of unverified, edited, tampered, pieced-together and even fabricated conversations,” he alleged.
Stressing that the framers of the Constitution had provided the inalienable right of every citizen to enjoy the protection of law under Article 4, he said one of the enshrined fundamental rights was that the privacy of home—subject to law—was inviolable. “With the utmost humility, it has become increasingly obvious that this guarantee is not only being violated, but being done so with an unjustifiable audacity and a clear sense of impunity,” he wrote.
Noting that he had failed a petition before the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of the public, the PTI chief regretted that it had not yet been fixed for hearing. “In the meanwhile, matters have only gotten worse,” he wrote, claiming the “lack of any consequence” for these leaks had “emboldened” the people responsible and they had even leaked an alleged conversation between a former chief minister and a judge of the Supreme Court.
Khan, who had defended wire-tapping by intelligence agencies during his time in office, said it was “now plain to see” that the people of Pakistan were subjected to routine surveillance and recording. “This begs the question, under what law are the people subject to such widespread surveillance and recording, by whom, to what end, under what constraints, and with what checks and balances in place?” Answering these questions, he claimed, was necessary for fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to have “any meaning.”
The PTI concluded his letter by reiterating a request for his petition to be taken up for hearing by the apex court.
On Sunday, in a televised address, Khan had similarly lamented that his petition had not been taken up by the Supreme Court and urged the CJP to fix it for hearing to ensure “fundamental rights” of the people.