Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) disclosed in the Supreme Court that it had tapped 6,856 telephones across the country in May.
The information came to light on Wednesday when a three-judge Supreme Court bench was hearing a 19-year-old case on phone tapping. After examining the documents, it was revealed that 6,523 phones were tapped in February, 6,819 in March and 6,742 in April.
The classified report was provided by the Deputy Attorney General, Sajid Ilyas, on behalf of the ISI in accordance with a May 22 direction.
Earlier the Deputy Attorney General had presented another report that had been prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which has suggested that 5,594 phones had been tapped across the country. The Supreme Court bench was hearing a 19-year-old suo moto case initiated in 1996.
Justice Saqib traced the history of the case and observed that even judges and chief justices phones had been tapped since the case started in 1996.
Judge Saqib also took note of the fact that the court had asked to be informed of the law under which these phones were being tapped. In 1996, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had initiated the suo moto case when he noticed a device attached to his telephone by a certain spy agency.
The list of names and numbers that were tapped were not revealed. The judges have agreed to hear ISI’s request for in-camera hearings rather than open court ones.
“We cannot sweep this matter under the carpet as it concerns the rights of the people,” the judge stated. He also said that if the agency has legal authority to tap phones, then the court has no objection, but if they were violating laws, then tapping would be improper.