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Government lists wiretaps by Sharif government

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    Government lists wiretaps by Sharif government

    ISLAMABAD, May 5: The government of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif carried out a massive wiretapping campaign, listening to private conversations of more than 1,000 people, including top judges, the Supreme Court heard on Friday. Attorney General Aziz Munshi presented a list of the names to the Supreme Court to expose what the military government, which overthrew Sharif last October, says were the illegal activities of Sharif's 32-month administration.

    The 63-page list contains more than 1,000 names and includes prominent opposition politicians, bureaucrats and journalists, including Reuters and the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Telephones of many of the people were tapped without authorisation of the chief of the powerful Intelligence Bureau, Munshi said.

    It has been widely assumed that wiretapping has been carried out by different agencies in Pakistan, but it was the first time that such a comprehensive list has been made public. Munshi presented the list on the orders of the Supreme Court, which is hearing a challenge to the bloodless military coup of October 12 that dislodged Sharif from power.

    The list provided by the Intelligence Bureau, the country's main civilian intelligence agency, also listed alleged drug smugglers, kidnappers, criminals and people suspected of anti-state activities.


    Some of Sharif's own ministers and members of parliament were also on the list. It is widely assumed that the country's military intelligence wing, the Inter-Services Intelligence, also carries out telephone monitoring and other forms of electronic surveillance.

    Many foreigners and Pakistanis with links to diplomats or government jobs complain that their conversations are interrupted by unexplained clicks, which are assumed to be monitoring. The Supreme Court ruling did not cover any surveillance carried out by the ISI, which is part of the military establishment now ruling Pakistan.

    Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, a Supreme Court judge at the time, at least two senior World Bank officials and former president Farooq Leghari, were also on the list. The court was told that some of the monitoring took place on the instructions of former Senator Saifur Rehman, a powerful aide to Sharif and head of his much-feared Accountability Bureau.

    Rehman, now under detention along with Sharif and others, was acquitted in the recent plane hijacking case in which Sharif was sentenced to two life terms. Sharif's critics often accused Rehman of harassing and monitoring political opponents and journalists, but Sharif and Rehman denied the charges. Sharif was elected twice but ousted twice and spent much of his second spell as a prime minister trying to amass powers held by other institutions.


    His showdown with the media he thought not supportive of his government came to fore last year when Najam Sethi, editor of a prominent English-language weekly, was picked up by intelligence agencies without any charge. The arrest caused an international outcry and Sethi was released after about a month. The list shows his several phone numbers, including that of his wife Jugnu Mohsin, were tapped.

    Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, who was editor of The News daily -- considered by Sharif to be too critical of his policies -- also had her phone tapped. (Reuters)

    Sarfraz Khan

    big deal.. as if current govt. which is apparently led by bunch of selfless faqirs does not tap phones on political leaders ..


      ZZ - yes indeed phone/wiretapping is common across all parts of South Asia, whether you are a democracy, are under 'emergency rule' or a military government.