Pakistan has granted its military-operated intelligence agency the authority to monitor telephone calls and messages, enhancing its pivotal role in the country's politics. This move has sparked concerns among opposition politicians and social media users about potential misuse and privacy breaches. In a nation where the army has governed for nearly half of its independent history, the military's ability to influence or destabilize governments is significant. The new surveillance powers for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency have caused widespread unease.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar informed parliament that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications received notification of this change on July 8. Tarar assured that any misuse of the law would be met with consequences, emphasizing that the surveillance would be limited to criminal and terrorist activities, with the government ensuring it does not encroach on personal lives and privacy.

The notice, seen by Reuters, stated that the federal government, in the interest of national security and to prevent any offenses, has authorized officers to intercept calls and messages or trace calls through any telecom system. The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan, opposed this move in parliament. Khan had previously supported the ISI's surveillance of politicians' calls, including his own, without legal authorization. A party leader, Omar Ayub Khan, expressed concern that the agency might use its powers against lawmakers and pledged a court challenge.

The army's Inter-Services Public Relations Wing declined to comment, and the information ministry did not respond to inquiries about whether the legal authorization could lead to privacy violations and political misuse. Farieha Aziz of the rights advocacy group Bolo Bhi questioned on X whether what is legal is also constitutional or right.