Notified espionage

Editorial July 10, 2024


Close on the heels of a faux pas in the court of law, the government has, through a notification, authorised the intelligence apparatus to indulge in eavesdropping. This is surely in defiance of the proceedings, observations and ruling of the Islamabad High Court, which had come down hard on audio-leaks and reprimanded the telecom operators, as well as the regulator, to stay aloof. The rejoinder from the beleaguered political dispensation to allow ISI to trace (read record) calls and messages with impunity will be contested in legal and social realms.

It seems the government’s move is under duress and without any serious introspection to the dictates of law and the Constitution. Tapping private conversation, and that too without any justified reason, is tantamount to breach of fundamental rights. Enabling such an act under the premise of national security concerns, and that too by voicing it in public, hints at a serious discord with the judiciary and civil society.

It is a given that the country is facing adequate security challenges, and the fissures within the society are in need of being monitored. But there is always a lawful and civil way to do so, and singling out the ISI to do the needful was in bad taste. It is also a fact that all countries indulge in such espionage ventures but do not come out in public when faced with constraints of legality and writ of the courts. The government is better advised to beef up the intelligence gathering mechanism in a diverse manner, but at least not such that it clearly appears to be happening at the cost of citizens’ privacy.

The guarantees bestowed in the Constitution must be upheld, even in times of dire straits such as war and civil unrest. Thus, it would be more apt to act under the writ of the judiciary and lawfully ascertain the required permissions to monitor nefarious elements and suspects. The courts are forthcoming to reason and that aspect should act as a valve to channelise synergies in the right direction. It will also absolve the government and state organs of trespassing allegations, and usher in sanity of lawfulness.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ