Pakistan asks UN to hold India accountable over Pegasus spying


India’s ‘state-sponsored, continuing, widespread surveillance and spying operations’ violate global norms, says Islamabad.

Pakistan on Friday urged the UN to “thoroughly investigate” the widespread use of the Israeli-developed Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and others.

“Bring the facts to light, and hold the Indian perpetrators to account,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to the use of the Israeli spyware by India.

“We have noted with serious concern recent international media reports exposing Indian government’s organized spying operations against its own citizens, foreigners as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan, using an Israeli origin spyware,” the ministry said.

“We condemn in strongest possible terms India’s state-sponsored, continuing and widespread surveillance and spying operations in clear breach of global norms of responsible state behavior,” it added.

Earlier this week, the NSO Group, accused of supplying spyware to governments, has been linked to a list of tens of thousands of smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives, and politicians around the world.

The NSO Group and its Pegasus malware – capable of switching on a phone’s camera or microphone, and harvesting its data – have been in the headlines since 2016, when researchers accused it of helping spy on a dissident in the United Arab Emirates.

Among those who were put on the spy list include Pakistani Premier Khan and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Working with new data from the journalism nonprofit organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and media partners around the world worked to uncover who might have fallen victim to Pegasus, and tell their stories.

“Keeping a clandestine tab on dissenting voices is a long-standing textbook ploy of the RSS-BJP regime to commit human rights atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and peddle disinformation against Pakistan. The world has seen the true face of the so-called Indian ‘democracy’ when the reports of EU Disinfo Lab, Indian Chronicle, surfaced earlier last year,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.

In late 2019, the EU Disinfo Lab uncovered a vast network of news websites and NGOs engaged to target Pakistani interests across global platforms.