Thursday October 21, 2021


September 26, 2021

Five Eyes – an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US – are watching. Five Eyes has put Pakistan under focus. Our communications are being tracked. Who is signalling whom and in what quantity – both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Five Eyes is using ‘imagery intelligence’ and tracking human activity – both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Five Eyes has put our cyberspace also under focus.

Five Eyes is using Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), intercepting signals, communications among people plus electronic signals not directly used in communication. Five Eyes routinely conducts ‘traffic analysis’ to keep a record of ‘who is signalling whom and in what quantity’.

Under traffic analysis, “frequent communications means planning. Rapid, short communication can denote negotiations. Who talks to whom will indicate which stations are in-charge. Who changes from station to station will indicate either movement or fear of interception.”

Five Eyes deploys Communications Intelligence (COMINT) to track “messages or voice information derived from the interception of foreign communications”. This includes voice interception, text interception and channel interception. Standard ‘BEADWINDOW’ codes include position, capabilities and operations. Then there’s Foreign Instrumentation Signature Intelligence (FISINT), which is “intelligence from the interception of foreign electromagnetic emissions associated with the test and operational deployment of foreign aerospace, surface and subsurface systems”.

Five Eyes deploys Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) which is “information derived from an analysis of images and data associated with a particular location”. Five Eyes uses satellite “imagery to survey and assess human activity” in their target area (aka IMINT). GEOINT “seeks to anticipate patterns of life through time”. GEOINT keeps track of seven variables: “Where are the friends? Where are the enemies? Where might the enemies move? Where are the non-combatants? What is the environment? What does it mean? What is the impact?”

Five Eyes also deploys Cyber Intelligence (CYBINT) which is the tracking and analysing of cyberspace – our “telecommunications networks, information technology infrastructures and computer systems”. Every computer-mediated communication is under focus.

Every word that those in our government utter has consequences for Pakistan. Every communication has consequences for Pakistan. Every remark has consequences for Pakistan. Verbal, non-verbal, formal and informal communications are being tracked – with consequences for Pakistan. Mr Prime Minister, please be careful – all others around him, please be careful. Off-the-cuff remarks also have consequences for Pakistan. Please be careful.

Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, which has been ranked by a whole host of ranking agencies as among the top-10 on the face of the planet, has successfully safeguarded the safety and security of 220 million Pakistanis against all odds – and against intelligence agencies with multi-billion dollar budgets. Imagine: Pak Army is the only army in the world that actually won the ‘war on terrorism’ – and that too in a limited budget. We should not make our premier intelligence agency’s work more difficult than it already is.

Five Eyes lost the war in Afghanistan. Five Eyes can be beaten. Our defence infrastructure has, time and again, proven its resilience, adaptability, skills and exceptional intelligence capabilities. What we need is a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach in which all civilian and military stakeholders collaborate in foreign policy support activities.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh