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February 1, 2019

Pak elite intl agency dismantled international spy network

Top Story

February 1, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a major successful operation, Pakistan’s elite intelligence agency has dismantled an international spying network that was created here comprising certain officials serving in the country’s security establishment.

Informed sources told The News that besides a “very senior security official” — retired a few year back — four to five members, who were serving in security forces, have also been arrested and being interrogated for their connection with the one of the most powerful country’s spy agency. The arrested ones include an official who was serving in a Pakistani mission in a European capital.

The sources said that the network has been dismantled completely. The investigations reveals that the officials including the “senior retired official” were lured into doing espionage for the agency.

The network was assigned to pass on “sensitive security” information to that foreign agency, but the Pakistani agency in what a source termed, a “remarkable operation” crippled the network completely. There have been such efforts even made by the foreign agency before, but the Pakistani security agencies have been successfully exposing and dismantling such networks.

In the leaked alleged Abbottabad Commission report, “Haqqani’s Principals” were also held responsible for aiding and abetting the establishment of nationwide foreign network in Pakistan. The report had unambiguously declared that Haqqani’s “principals” were working for the interests of that agency in Pakistan and not for the Pakistan’s national interests. It was also alleged that Hussain Haqqani was directly reporting and was relying on the direct instructions of these “principals” working for foreign interests in Pakistan, and mostly by-passed the proper reporting channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Media reports, several years back, even had disclosed that the former Dictator General Musharraf in the post 9/11 situation had permitted the powerful country’s intelligence agencies to recruit their agents in the tribal belt of Pakistan. It was General Musharraf’s own Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen (R) Shahid Aziz, who had told The News in 2009 that Musharraf, during his rule, had not only allowed the drones to use the Pakistani airspace for intelligence sharing but had permitted the two intelligence agencies of that country to recruit their agents in the tribal belt of Pakistan.

Almost three months before the May 2, 2011, Abbottabad attack, The News had published a detailed report of how Pakistan had become home to one of the biggest networks of foreign spy agencies following some unbelievable concessions offered to that country by Gen Musharraf.

Not only General Musharraf had allowed the two foreign agencies to hire local agents in Pakistan, but the people of that country were also free to move in and move out without any check.

“At times we did not know who is coming and who is going, and what is brought in and what it taken out,” a source was quoted to have said in the February 2011 report of The News.

One unbelievable concession that the “officials” and “diplomats” of that country had been enjoying, but withdrawn only in October 2009 on the direct intervention of the then DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, was the facility of unchecked arrivals and departures with no scrutiny of their luggage at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) in Islamabad.

Gammon Gate of the BBIA, which was basically meant for food catering services and had a direct outside airport link without passing through immigration and Customs checks, was specified for the ‘officials’. This special facility allowed the ‘officials’ to have unchecked arrivals and departures to and from the Islamabad airport.

The facility was massively misused and there were reports of even unauthorised and undeclared import of sensitive material and equipment, including weapons. This fact had set serious alarm bells ringing among the Pakistani authorities and forced them to withdraw the facility but only after a lot of damage had already been done.

According to the report, a CAA order, issued on the subject in 2009, did concede to the fact that the Customs and immigration authorities had no arrangements/staff to check the movement and crew and other foreigners, “The equipment related to aeroplane, the crew and their personal luggage also passes through this gate. During checking, [that country’s] vehicles and the luggage they carry to and from apron area are not properly searched/ checked by the ASF staff deputed to control the entry/exit at the Gammon Gate,” a document was quoted in the report, adding that in view of this, use of the Gammon Gate by foreigners should be stopped forthwith as it was a serious security hazard.

It is said that during the tenure of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General Pasha, major successful operations were conducted to breakdown such networks of foreign agencies in Pakistan.