ISLAMABAD - The blame game over the surfacing of a picture of the prime minister’s son, Hussain Nawaz, during or prior to his appearance before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case, took a new turn on Monday after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) accused the interior ministry and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of ‘releasing’ the picture.

The Ministry of Interior, however, immediately refuted the allegation. A spokesman for the interior ministry said the allegations of a “political party putting the responsibility of leakage of a photo of Hussain Nawaz on the Ministry of Interior was baseless and ridiculous”.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the PTI have been at loggerhead over the leaked photograph of Hussain Nawaz on the social media, with both sides accusing each other of getting a political mileage out of the picture. A screen grab of a CCTV camera, bearing the date of May 28, has gone viral on the social media showing Hussain Nawaz sitting on a chair in a solitary spacious room on the premises of the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA), where the JIT is headquartered, to face a probe regarding the offshore wealth and property of the Sharif family.

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry while talking to The Nation said the interior ministry was responsible for the security of FJA, where the JIT had set up a temporary office, and the ministry was responsible for any lapse.  “Either, the Islamabad Police, which works under the interior ministry , had got it leaked or this is the plan of the IB, which is also a civilian intelligence agency of the federal government,” he said.

“The third option is that some officials deputed at the main operational room of CCTV security cameras might have got the footage to release it on social media. The issue should be probed to ascertain the facts. This is not possible that any member of the JIT had released this photograph,” he said and questioned how the PTI could get access to this footage.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the interior ministry explained that the external security of FJA was the job of the Islamabad Police while the interior ministry or the Islamabad Police had no role in administrative matters of the academy. “Any department or institution of the interior ministry including the Islamabad Police has neither access to the offices nor the JIT and its proceedings or making any film,” he said.

"This is very inappropriate to do politics on a sensitive matter," he said. “According to this logic, the Islamabad Police provide security to PTI chief Imran Khan and then whatever happens inside his residence at Bani Gala, will it become the responsibility of the Islamabad Police or the interior ministry ?” he asked.

State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, the other day, had expressed serious concern over the leakage of the photo stating it, “an illegal publication and demeaning and a serious breach of investigation rules”.

On the other hand, PTI Secretary Information Shafqat Mahmood called the leakage of footage on the social media an attack of the ruling party on the Supreme Court and the JIT. “This is not the first attack of the PML-N as the same media cell has been used to make the SC and the JIT controversial that was earlier used to “malign the army”.

“The photograph was uploaded on the social media through fake accounts and later the ruling party started connecting this campaign to the PTI,” he said. Terming it a conspiracy against the apex court, he said: “This plot had totally exposed that the government only wanted to make the JIT controversial besides exerting more pressure on the apex court through such tactics”.