Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

Government affirms no authorization for audio tapping by intelligence agencies

Islamabad, 20 December, 2023 (GNP): In a recent development, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the government has not granted permission to any intelligence agency for the interception of audio conversations.

This disclosure emerged during the hearing of a petition filed by Bushra Bibi, the spouse of ex-premier Imran Khan, seeking action against a leaked conversation allegedly involving her and PTI leader Latif Khosa.

The case, brought forth by the former first lady citing the violation of privacy rights as protected under Article 14 of the Constitution, prompted the IHC to solicit reports from various entities including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

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AGP Awan presented a report from the Prime Minister’s Office emphasizing that the ISI, FIA, and IB are not authorized to record conversations.

He underscored the FIA’s responsibility in identifying the source behind the leaked call, indicating their approach to telecom companies under court directives while stressing the necessity for access to pertinent internet protocol addresses for investigation purposes.

AGP Awan reiterated that any agency involved in recording conversations is doing so unlawfully, while the ISI emphasized the importance of obtaining reports from social media platforms to progress the inquiry.

During the hearing, concerns were raised about the channels broadcasting the leaked audio. Pemra’s counsel assured the court of directives prohibiting the airing of such private conversations, stating the matter was referred to the Council of Complaints for decisions.

Justice Babar Sattar highlighted the delicate balance between freedom of expression and privacy, underscoring the state’s responsibility to uphold this equilibrium.

He directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to submit a comprehensive report and instructed the FIA and other entities to resubmit their responses.

Justice Sattar emphasized the gravity of the issue and warned of appointing local and international advisers if the government failed to provide pertinent information. He also tasked AGP Awan with verifying claims regarding the IB’s authority to record conversations.