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July 8, 2014 - Comments Off on Pakistan responds to the NSA Surveillance of PPP

Pakistan responds to the NSA Surveillance of PPP

United States' National Security Agency (NSA) was granted permission to spy on six political parties, over a dozen global organizations, and all but four world governments, according to a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) certification leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The organizations NSA was authorized to spy on include United Nations and World Bank as well as Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).

The top-secret FISC certification, posted by Washington Post on their website on June 30th, 2014, and other related documents that the Post has not yet shared, allow the NSA to intercept not just the communication directly originating to or from the targets mentioned above, but also any communication about them. This, we imagine, can be a very broad spectrum.

In response to DRF Director Nighat Dad's tweet asking if any member of the Pakistan People's Party was willing to speak on the unlawful NSA activity, Sharmila Faruqi, former advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh, said that the revelation was akin to "intruding our privacy and sovereign rights [and thus] highly condemnable." She added that this "should be agitated at the highest forum."

Speaking on the same matter, former PPP Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed that during the PPP tenure in 2012, cabinet meetings were being spied on. "The secret recording signals were traced during a random security sweeping before the cabinet meeting and after that the recording signals were broke down before the cabinet meeting," he said. He feared that the cabinet meetings of the present government might also be under surveillance. He was, however, unaware of who might be behind the recording signals. He suggested the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif take up the matter with the US President Barak Obama through a formal letter.

PPP later issued a statement highly critical of the practice calling it "grave, unwarranted and totally unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country." The statement, issued by the PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, demanded an apology from the US for "spying on the political institutions of a sovereign country." It also asked the government to take up this matter at the diplomatic level and demand that such violation of international law doesn't happen again.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO), later on Thursday, formally lodged a protest with the US over the surveillance of PPP, calling the practice a violation of the international law and demanding an end it. "Appropriate measures are being taken to protect our cyber communication from any attack or spying," FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in her statement.

PPP has also lodged a formal protest with the United States through a letter to the Ambessador of United States in Pakistan, Mr. Richard G. Olson. The letter expresses grave disappointment over the matter. "The Party believes that it owes no explanation to any foreign agency," the letter said, "It therefore strongly resents and deplores the overbearing attitude of the NSA in assuming a right to interfere in other countries and their political parties. This attitude of a department of the US government towards a popular Pakistani political party will only increase distrust and suspicion already noticeably present in the people of Pakistan towards the government of the United States."

This post is first part of a series on the unlawful surveillance of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) by the NSA.

Published by: Sohail Abid in Blog, Cyber Security, Privacy

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