First came a confessional video of Saulat Mirza, an MQM worker on death row convicted of murder, and now an audio tape of a conversation between PTI Chairman Imran Khan and MNA Dr Arif Alvi has been leaked on social media. Legal experts largely agree that both these tapes are inadmissible in court and in all likelihood, illegal. In that case, what purpose are they supposed to serve? Why have they been leaked to mainstream media in one instance and social media in the other? Since these tapes do not carry any direct legal consequences, they can only be aimed at achieving some political objective. In Mirza’s case, it is clear that the aim to sway public opinion against the MQM and exert pressure on MQM Chief Altaf Hussain. It might also prove helpful to deter other MQM workers involved in criminal activities who are under the impression that their party would somehow manage to keep them secure.

The Khan-Alvi audio tape is an attempt to expose the PTI Chief’s duplicitous stance on the attack on PTV office during the PTI-PAT sit-ins in Islamabad. In public, Mr Khan disowned and condemned the attack whereas in the recorded conversation, he is heard rejoicing as Dr Alvi delivers the troubling news. It also reveals the party’s attempts towards securing support from the MQM to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It is important to remember that these are illegal activities most likely being undertaken by state-institutions to achieve political goals, which is unacceptable. These aren’t works of whistleblowers exposing corruption and crime at the highest level of secret government. This is being done by powerful government agencies on behest of the biggest players in the country. If the idea is to share facts deemed to be of public interest, then there is a need to put a transparent mechanism in place that makes that call after careful deliberation and releases information before the public in an orderly and unbiased fashion. Intelligence agencies, be it the ISI or the IB, must be reigned in. They cannot be allowed to violate the privacy of individuals or groups in contradiction of the law. This dirty exercise cannot be endorsed no matter how sensational and groundbreaking the content.