Govt authorises ISI to trace, intercept calls, messages

The country’s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been mandated by the federal government to intercept and trace phone calls and messages due to perceived threats to national security.

This development coincides with ongoing court proceedings concerning petitions challenging alleged audio leaks involving former prime minister Imran Khan's spouse Bushra Bibi, and Najam Saqib, the son of retired chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

On June 25, the Islamabad High Court noted the absence of legislation in the country governing phone tapping, implying that current practices are illegal.

The move is also being seen as a precursor to stricter social media regulations, especially since the popular platform X remains banned.

Nevertheless, the federal cabinet went on with legalising phone tapping, empowering the ISI to intercept calls and messages in the interest of national security under Section 54 of the Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996.

"The federal government, in the interest of national security and in the apprehension of any offence, is pleased to authorise the officers ... to be nominated from time to time by ISI to intercept calls and messages or to trace calls through any communication system,” read a notification released by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication on Monday.

The notification further states that ISI officers authorised for this task must hold a rank not lower than Grade 18.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt