Pakistan gives its spy agency permission to record and intercept communications for national security

The Pakistan government, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has formally authorized the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to intercept and trace calls for national security purposes. This decision, enacted under the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996, empowers ISI-nominated officers of grade 18 and above to monitor communications to prevent offenses and safeguard national security. The move is part of broader efforts by the government to tighten control over social media platforms, which opposition parties like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have used extensively to engage their supporters amidst restrictions on traditional media.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's administration has also approved amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, aiming to establish a Digital Rights Protection Authority. Additionally, reports indicate plans to implement a national firewall across internet service providers to filter and block content deemed undesirable.

The decision has sparked criticism from political opponents, such as PTI leader Omar Ayub Khan, who warned that such measures could potentially be used against current government officials once they are out of power, leading to legal challenges and court battles.

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