PTI Senator Azam Swati made some shocking revelations on Saturday when he broke down in front of the media while narrating how his wife was sent a private video of the couple by an unknown number. Swati said that his wife was not even able to tell him what had happened, and his daughter had to finally let him know what his wife could not. He said that after this incident, his wife, his daughter-in-law and his three granddaughters left the country.

Swati alleged that the video was recorded when he and his wife had visited Quetta where he stayed at the Supreme Court Judicial Lodges. According to Swati, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani had arranged his stay. However, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a clarification on Sunday stating that Senator Azam Swati “never used/stayed in Supreme Court Judges Rest House at Quetta”, adding that according to the Balochistan Special Branch, Swati stayed at the Balochistan Judicial Academy (Judicial Complex Quetta), which is not under the SC’s control. Chairman Sanjrani had also issued a statement where he condemned the video and also said that he provided Swati and his wife with the best and safest accommodation as guests in Quetta.

The visuals of an elderly Swati in tears left everyone shaken. After Swati’s press conference, there was widespread condemnation. PTI Chairman Imran Khan tweeted that he wants to apologise on behalf of Pakistan to Mrs Swati “for the pain, anguish and sense of humiliation she is having to suffer”. He requested Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial to take suo motu notice of this harrowing incident. It was also encouraging to see that despite being in other political parties, PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar condemned this violation of privacy in the strongest possible words, as did PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, PML-N’s Miftah Ismail and Musadik Malik.

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However, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has termed the video circulating on the internet as “fake” and added that the agency has analysed the video forensically as per international forensic analysis standards and found it to be fake. In a press release, FIA stated: “Initial forensic analysis revealed that the video has been edited and different video clips have been joined with defaced faces. Further analysis revealed that faces have been swapped in the images using photoshop.” Some journalists have also alleged that Swati’s wife received a fake and edited video. Whether the video is fake or not needs to be investigated properly.

Chairman Sanjrani formed a 14-member special to probe the alleged video. If the video is not fake, it is deeply disturbing that private videos of parliamentarians are being recorded to blackmail them.

To violate someone’s privacy like this is disgusting and shameful to say the least. It is not as if there’s no history of recording private audios and videos in Pakistan. We are aware of how politicians, members of the judiciary, journalists, activists and many others have been blackmailed over the years due to ‘files’, ‘videos’, ‘audios’, etc. But recording a man and his wife is the lowest of the low that one can possibly imagine. But if the video turns out to be fake, it is equally worrying that at a time when emotions are high after the assassination attempt on Khan, someone sends a fake video to Swati’s wife, knowing fully well how distressing it will be for their family and lead to further political chaos. A high-level investigation must take place in order to ascertain the facts. It is important that the perpetrators must face the penalty for their horrendous act.