Conversations Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has had with close confidantes have been compromised, parts of which are accessible to all with an internet connection.
As far as public interest is concerned, it is not necessarily something negative.
Why shouldn’t the Pakistani people know what their leaders say behind closed doors?
But it’s not just the Pakistani people who know, it’s other people too, people who may be hostile to Pakistan and its people.
Intelligence operators within the CIA, Mossad and R&W working on Pakistan now have access to an unparalleled treasure trove of Pakistani intelligence. Not just information but also invaluable insight into how our leadership thinks.
The leaked audios, purportedly containing 8 GBs of conversations of the Pakistani premier with various officials and other people are unprecedented in the history of Pakistan, a country which boasts of a solid intelligence apparatus.
It is frequently mentioned in our discourse that our premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is number one in the world.
While this may just be a myth, it cannot be denied that at least in Pakistan, the country’s intelligence community exerts a dominating influence in the day-to-day running of the country.
How then did the premier’s conversations reach the dark web where they were offered to the highest bidder?
Perhaps the agencies bugged PM House.
That is likely, and perhaps understandable too, depending on the lens through which one views the situation.
But how did the conversations reach the Dark Web? Leaking such privileged information does not befit professional intelligence operators who perhaps realise the consequences of such an action.
There are other theories, that perhaps this leak was not done by Pakistan’s agencies but despite them, reflecting how little we have invested in Counterintelligence at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The usual suspects could be hostile agencies abroad, but given the recent political turmoil at home, it wouldn’t be wise to discount domestic players this early.
Who gains from the leaks is a pertinent question to be asked.
Damage is caused to PMLN so naturally, it is PTI that benefits. PTI and its affiliates have been at the forefront in the distribution efforts pertaining to this intelligence, making sure that everybody knows.
This would lead to suspicions that elements that are sympathetic to PTI, to the extent that their interests are fully aligned with Imran Khan ascending to the premiership could be behind this.
It may well be spyware like Pegasus which through a zero click exploit compromised the premier’s cell phone. If it can happen to Jeff Bezos, it can happen to anybody.
More concerningly, what if there’s a mole? The oldest means to gather intelligence? What if this is the work of an enemy disguised as a friend?
But that is all conjecture, speculation and musings of an analyst with incomplete information.
What is certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that any player can compromise Pakistan’s National Security for 180 Bitcoins (3.43 million USD) only, including the office which appoints the Army Chief of the only nuclear-armed Muslim country.