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Pakistan lodges protest with US over spying by NSA

04 July, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday expressed concern over recent media reports that indicated that it is among the countries subject to surveillance by the US government departments, saying that surveillance was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between the two countries.

"The US Embassy in Islamabad was conveyed today that such an action against Pakistani government departments or other organisations, entities and individuals is not in accord with international law and recognised diplomatic conduct," a statement from the Foreign Office said on Thursday.

"The reference to a political party in Pakistan was surprising. The US side was further conveyed that surveillance was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between our two countries. In the interest of friendly and cooperative ties, we have urged the US to stop such activities," the statement said referring to the reports that US National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Earlier, addressing a weekly press briefing, FO Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam termed the alleged US spying on Pakistan a violation of international law. The matter has been taken up with Washington, she informed.

A new classified document made public by The Washington Post on Monday showed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among authorised targets for the NSA in 2010 while it was India's main opposition. The BJP was listed among six foreign political parties – along with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan Peoples Party – on which the NSA was given permission to carry out surveillance in 2010, said the document published by The Post.

India has complained to the United States on two previous occasions, in July and November 2013, over other revelations – including the disclosure that its UN mission in New York and its Washington embassy were snooped on. Both times Washington has said it would look into what it can share about its espionage programme but failed to offer any details, the source said. "We have said that we would like a response, which we haven't received," he said.

The document reveals virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorised to intercept information "concerning" all but four countries, according to top-secret documents. The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept any communications about its targets.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) on Thursday submitted a calling-attention notice in the Senate against the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US for spying on it.

PPP's parliamentary leader in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani along with senators Farhatullah Babar, Saeed Ghani and Sardar Ali Khan signed the calling-attention notice to draw the attention of minister of foreign affairs to this issue.

The news item stated that the NSA was allowed to spy on Pakistan People's Party (PPP), they noted, and described it a matter of urgent public importance which needs to be discussed in the House. PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar strongly condemned the move and termed it a violation of international law.

Leader of opposition Syed Khursheed Shah said the US has no right to spy on any party or individual and said that the PPP will write a letter to the US embassy in this connection.

End.

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