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PTI to Contest Government’s Approval Allowing ISI to Tap Phones

PTI to Contest Government's Approval Allowing ISI to Tap Phones

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has announced its intention to challenge a government notification that grants the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) the authority to intercept and trace calls in the “interest of national security.” This move by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication allows the intelligence wing to tap phones under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996.

Omar Ayub Khan, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, criticized the government for issuing this notification via SRO 1005 (I)/2024. He condemned the decision, accusing the government of adopting fascist measures by granting the ISI complete authority to tap citizens’ phones. Khan asserted that this decision by Shehbaz Sharif’s administration could backfire with significant consequences.

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Khan further argued that the SRO would be used by the ISI to blackmail and control politicians and media persons, including Bilawal Bhutto, Asif Zardari, and Maryam Nawaz. He announced his plan to challenge the notification in court, with his lawyer Dr. Babar Awan, claiming that the SRO is unconstitutional and infringes on fundamental rights.

The government’s notification states that officers not below the rank of grade 18, nominated by the ISI, are authorized to intercept calls and messages or trace calls through any telecommunication system as per Section 54 of the Act. This development follows a December hearing in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) where it was revealed that the government had not authorized any intelligence agency to tap audio conversations.