In addition to the variants of Covid-19, 2021 remained a year of leaked videos and audios that charged the political atmosphere of Pakistan, often reaching the front pages of the national press.
Judges, politicians and ministers, somehow they all found themselves in these leaks; although the majority denied the content of the tapes.
In addition to the accompanying controversy, the leaks also sparked a nationwide debate about laws regulating social media.
Whether they were manipulated or not is beside the point, as their importance can be gauged by the fact that some of them are still being discussed in the media and the courts despite a few months later.
In this article, we selected the five most controversial leaks that, albeit briefly, gave us a respite from the monotony of working from home.
Alleged audio leak from ex-CJP
This audiotape is at the peak of the controversy it generated. In an audiotape released by journalist Ahmad Noorani, former CJP Saqib Nisar can allegedly be heard commenting on the corruption case of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. On the tape, he allegedly said that Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz had to be sentenced, guilty or not.
The Zubair scandal
The leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and former governor of Sindh, Muhammad Zubair, made the news after an alleged sex tape of him with an unidentified woman began to circulate on social media.
A day later, Zubair called the tape tampered with. With all these deepfakes circulating on the internet, this seems likely.
It is an open secret how legislators use the Senate elections to make a lot of money; the practice is commonly known as pranks. In February this year, a video of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa MPAs was leaked on social media showing them allegedly receiving money for voting for PPP candidates in the 2018 Senate elections.
The video showed a man handing large sums of money, reportedly Rs 20 million, to various legislators from the ruling PTI’s KP Assembly, as well as some other parties. The KP law minister also lost his wallet after appearing in the video.
There are hardly any Senate elections in recent history that have not been controversial. In the 2021 elections, joint opposition candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani defeated government candidate Hafeez Sheikh, finance minister at the time, to a seat in the Islamabad Senate in a surprise victory.
How did the opposition manage to win this seat? Gilani attributed it to his good connections across the hall, while the government yelled badly.
However, in the run-up to this election, a video surfaced of Gilani’s son Ali Haider Gilani, in which he is seen telling MNAs how to waste their vote in the Senate. Haider Gilani admitted that the video was genuine and that he had met with PTI MNAs to “discuss things related to the polls.”
Subsequently, a plea was made against the disbarment of Yousaf Raza Gilani, which is currently being examined in court.
Maryam on ‘media management’
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who is leading the charge against the former CJP for his leaked audio, was embroiled in a controversy after two audio clips of Hera were leaked online.
He is often fierce with his criticism of the powers that be. But in this leaked audio clip, she was heard flaunting her deft media management skills.
In the audio clip, the PML-N leader could be heard saying, “Look at my media management. Geo News and Dunya News have [ruined them]. “
In another clip, Maryam was heard giving instructions to reject advertisements on certain television channels. She had confirmed it was her voice in the clip, while her party spokesperson said Maryam was referring to party announcements.