Under fire, the interior minister ducked, and held the intelligence agencies responsible for the presence of Norwegian spies in Pakistan.
Rehman Malik, responding to a point of order raised by fellow Pakistan Peoples Party senator Raza Rabbani, admitted to the upper house of parliament that he had no information on the presence of Norwegian spies in the country.
The minister, however, evaded responsibility for the lapse, saying information about spies and their activities does not come under his ministry but under the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
“It’s the responsibility of the ISI and IB to keep an eye on suspicious movements since they have the authority,” the minister said.
“They don’t work under the ministry of interior … [but] they are subservient to the prime minister administratively,” Malik said, adding that he will inquire the matter and report back to the house on a priority basis.
The minister attempted to deflect any responsibility for the incident.
“We all know that spies never seek approvals for their activities from the country where they are based. We can only check them through sharp intelligence,” Malik said.
He added that forces have arrested some suspicious foreigners, and confirmed spies, from Baluchistan and Dera Ismail Khan.
“Foreigners and diplomats have been strictly directed to avoid travelling to southern parts of Pakistan, Balochistan and sensitive areas without informing, and prior approval of, the interior ministry,” he added.
Malik was responding to questions raised by Senator Rabbani regarding recent reports on the presence of Norwegian spies in Pakistan.
“We want to know if there is an existing accord with Norway to permit their spies in Pakistan,” Rabbani asked.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.
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