‘Legal action’ against India for ‘spying’ on PM

Adviser says ‘Pegasus malware’ issue will be raised on global forums

Our Correspondent July 25, 2021
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain along with Advisor to PM on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference in Islamabad on July 24, 2021. PHOTO: PID


Pakistan on Saturday said that it would conduct an investigation over India’s use of Pegasus malware -- capable of switching a phone’s camera or microphone on and harvesting its data -- against Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior officials of the country’s military and government and take legal action.

It also vowed to raise "deep concern" over the issue at international forums.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, Adviser to Prime Minister on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar, who was flanked by Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, said the scandal was even bigger than the Panama Papers leaks.

"We consider it [the cyber-attack] an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty and the country will safeguard itself at all cost," Akbar added.

He said that the government was devising a legal strategy against India and the issue will be raised on international forums including the UN and EU.

Read more: India tried to hack PM Imran’s phone

The PM's aide said that a team comprising officials from intelligence agencies, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and senior officials of cabinet division would investigate the matter.

Akbar said India’s nefarious designs towards Pakistani had been exposed following the scandal.

"India wants to destabilise Pakistan. Earlier, we also saw the report of Disinfo Lab, which stated how India used fake media houses and NGOs to lobby against Pakistan.”

The adviser said that Israeli firm NSO had been selling software to different countries for many years. However, it requires approval from the Israeli government.

"Ten countries were given the spyware including India. It was used against political opponents of [Narendra] Modi including journalist, politicians and judges," he added.

Describing how the malware works, he said it called the victim and when it was received, it froze the phone and extracted the data.

“It also has the capability to use a phone's camera and microphone.”

Also read: Pakistan concerned over reports of Modi regime spying on opponents

A report in The Washington Post stated that India was one of the 10 countries, which have been listed as clients of Israel’s NSO Group and its spyware.

At least one number once used by PM Imran was among the tens of thousands of smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives and politicians from around the world that were revealed to have been targeted by the Israeli spyware.

The American publication stated that hundreds of numbers from Pakistan appeared on the Indian surveillance list, including one which was once used by the premier. More than 1,000 Indian numbers were also on the list. The report did not confirm if the attempt on the premier's number was successful or not.

Israel’s Haaretz reported that several Pakistani officials, Kashmiri freedom fighters, Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and an Indian Supreme Court judge were targeted.

According to a local private TV channel, India even tried to tap the federal cabinet members’ calls and messages through the spyware, prompting the Pakistani government to develop new software for federal ministers.



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