In light of revelations that Pakistan is a popular target for foreign espionage, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday advised the government to take immediate steps to ensure cyber security for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and its missions abroad.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, addressing the meeting, had earlier told the committee said that Pakistan is one of three countries in the world — alongside China and Iran — monitored extensively by foreign spies.

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Hussain lamented that Pakistan had still not taken any measures to ensure cyber security. "We are quite late in this regard," he said, raising concerns over a delay in a release of funds sought by the MOFA for cyber security.

The MOFA had sought Rs80 million from the federal government for the purposes of improving cyber security.

This amount has yet to be released by the federal government, an additional secretary of MOFA told the meeting.

He acknowledged on the occasion that there cyber threats to MOFA and Pakistan's missions abroad are ever present, and there is a serious need to secure them.

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During the meeting, the Foreign Office had to face severe criticism for a planned state guest house in Islamabad, for which it has sought Rs5 billion. Senator Hussain said it is ironic that MOFA is seeking Rs5bn for a state guest house when it cannot manage Rs80m for cyber security, which is a far greater threat.

The standing committee strongly recommended to the federal government that it release the funds promised for cyber security to MOFA on an emergency basis.