Federal government mandates ISI to intercept calls and messages amid national security concerns.

The federal government has tasked the country’s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with intercepting and tracing 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 governing phone tapping in the country, implying that current practices are illegal.

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

Despite this, the federal cabinet has proceeded with legalizing phone tapping, empowering the ISI to intercept calls and messages under Section 54 of the Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996 in the interest of national security.

“The federal government, in the interest of national security and in the apprehension of any offence, is pleased to authorize 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 authorized for this task must hold a rank not lower than Grade 18.