Pakistan condemns India's use of Pegasus spyware

Published July 23, 2021
This file photo shows Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. — Photo courtesy RadioPak/File
This file photo shows Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. — Photo courtesy RadioPak/File

Pakistan on Friday condemned India's "state-sponsored, continuing and widespread surveillance and spying operations", and called it a clear breach of global norms of responsible state behaviour.

In a statement, Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudri said: "We have noted with serious concern, the recent international media reports exposing the Indian government’s organised spying operations against its own citizens, foreigners as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan, using an Israeli-origin spyware.

"Keeping a clandestine tab on dissenting voices is a long-standing textbook ploy of the RSS-BJP regime to commit human rights atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and peddle disinformation against Pakistan," the statement said.

The statement comes days after an investigation by 17 media organisations showed that India was among a number of countries using an Israeli company's spyware in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists around the world. At least one number once used by Prime Minister Imran Khan was on the India list.

"The world has seen the true face of the so-called Indian 'democracy' when the reports of EU Disinfo Lab, Indian Chronicle, surfaced earlier last year," the FO spokesman said in the statement.

Read: Indian network lobbying against Pakistan exposed

"We are closely following these revelations and will bring Indian abuses to the attention of appropriate global platforms."

"In view of the gravity of these reports, we call on the relevant UN bodies to thoroughly investigate the matter, bring the facts to light, and hold the Indian perpetrators to account," he concluded.

The extent of the spyware – Pegasus – use was reported by The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets who collaborated on an investigation into a data leak.

According to The Post, more than 1,000 phone numbers in India appeared on the surveillance list while hundreds were from Pakistan, including the one PM Imran once used. However, The Post did not specify whether the surveillance attempt on PM Imran's number was successful.

Indian investigative news website The Wire reported that 300 mobile phone numbers used in India — including those of government ministers, opposition politicians, journalists, scientists and rights activists — were on the list.

The numbers included those of more than 40 Indian journalists from major publications such as the Hindustan Times, The Hindu and the Indian Express, as well as two founding editors of The Wire, it said.

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