ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production organised a policy seminar on “Defending Pakistan Through Cyber Security Strategy” in coordination with Pakistan Information Security Association (PISA) in order to address security issues related to the internet.

The event was held at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) in the federal capital city of Islamabad in wake of startling revelations made by Edward Snowden who claimed that the American National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on Pakistan through internet and online communication systems with 13.5 billion pieces of email, phone and fax communications intercepted.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production, in his welcoming address, highlighted the cyber security threat and how it can affect Pakistan’s national defence, security, intelligence, diplomacy, nuclear and missile programme, economy, energy, education, civil aviation as well as industrial and manufacturing units both in the private and public sector.

“Cyber security is an issue of paramount importance for Pakistan’s stability and progress,” the Senator added.

“Our cyber security must have three fundamental elements. Pakistan's digital infrastructure must have the ability to resist attacks, cyber penetration and disruption; Defend against emerging cyber threats, whether state sponsored or otherwise, and ability to retaliate regionally, at least; Ability to recover quickly from cyber incidents, whether caused by cyber aggression, accident or natural disaster,” said Mushahid Hussain while addressing the participants of the moot.

Since last year, the Senate Committee on Defence & Defence Production had identified cyber warfare as a new, non-military security threat to the country given its location and strategic role.

During the Q&A Session, Senator Farhatullah Babar suggested the formation of a focal ministry or division exclusively to handle cyber security issues.

He said laws for data protection should be introduced and in this regard, industry experts have to join hands with Parliamentarians.

Senator Mushahid Hussain responded by informing that committee had already taken the initiative to form a Joint Task Force for Cyber Security, having technical support of PISA to present recommendations and situation analysis.

In his concluding speech, Senator Mushahid Hussain thanked the members of Senate Defence Committee and announced the Senate Defence Committee is proposing the following 7-point Action Plan for a Cyber Secure Pakistan:

  1. Relevant legislation to preserve, protect and promote Pakistan cyber security, drafting for which has already begun. We will presents bills in Parliament for Cyber Security.

  2. Cyber security threat should be accepted and recognised as new, emerging national security threat by the Government of Pakistan, similar to the threats like terrorism and military aggression.

  3. Establishing a National Computer Emergency Response Team (PKCERT).

  4. Establishing a Cyber-Security Task Force with affiliation with Ministry of Defence, Ministry of IT, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and our security organisations plus relevant and leading professionals from the private security so that Pakistan can take steps to combat this new emerging threat and formulate Cyber Security Strategy for Pakistan.

  5. Under the office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, an Inter-Services Cyber Command should be established to coordinate cyber security and cyber defence for the Pakistan Armed Forces.

  6. Within the framework of SAARC, Pakistan should take the initiative to initiate talks among the 8-member states particularly India to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyber security among the SAARC countries so that these countries are not engaged in cyber warfare against each other.

If Pakistan and India can have an agreement not to attack nuclear installations, why not an agreement seeking the prevention of cyber warfare against each other?

  1. Soon after Eid, the Senate Defence Committee, in cooperation with the Pakistan Information Security Association (PISA), will have a special media workshop to promote awareness among the public and educate opinion leaders on the issue of cyber security.

The seminar was attended by a number of representatives from civil society, government officials, ministries, academia and media as well.



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