Pakistan believes that India had used Pegasus, Israeli-made spyware, to spy on prominent public figures, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On July 23, the country called on the United Nations to step in and investigate the incident.
Pakistan Seeks Help of UN in Alleged Spying
The list of potential surveillance targets for countries that bought the Pegasus spyware included PM Khan's phone number, according to Amnesty International and 17 other international media organizations.
After the organizations discovered the list, the foreign office in Pakistan issued a statement accusing India of creating the list and buying the spyware, calling the move a "breach of global norms of responsible state behavior."
Pakistan's foreign office added that due to the gravity of the situation, they had no choice but to seek help from the relevant UN bodies to investigate the incident thoroughly. Pakistan is adamant that they wish to hold the perpetrators accountable.
Meanwhile, India's foreign ministry did not respond to the accusations. The Indian government had already dealt with spying allegations, especially domestic politicians such as the opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi.
According to the investigation published by Amnesty International, several groups had used the spyware in both attempted and successful hacks of at least 37 smartphones owned by government officials, human rights activists, and journalists.
NSO, the Israeli company that made and licensed the Pegasus spyware, stated that they created this product for vetted government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to combat crime and terrorism. The spyware was never intended to be used for the surveillance of public figures.
Pakistan and India are known to be rivals and had gone to war three times over the Himalayan region of Kashmir--both claim they own it.
The statement released by Pakistan's foreign office stated that New Delhi had used the spying tactic in Kashmir. However, India did not respond to the accusation, according to US News.
Pakistan's foreign office added that they are closely following the revelations about the case and will bring the abuses to the attention of numerous global platforms.
What is the Pegasus Spyware?
According to a report by The Verge, the Pegasus spyware was developed by NSO Group for government agencies.
The spyware infects the target's smartphone, gathers any personal data it could find, and sends back the data to the operator. Some of the collected data include messages, chats, photos, video recordings, and audio recordings.
Investigators can't trace the spyware back to whoever is using it. This lets the operator spy on anyone without the fear of getting caught.
NSO Group stated that the spyware is supposed to help government intelligence and agencies to crack encryptions connected to terrorism and crime.
Due to its features, cybercriminals used spyware for hacking individuals. The dangers of the product came to light after Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018. He was among those targeted by the spy tool.
After the incident, numerous news outlets, including The Washington Post and Le Monde, created the Pegasus Project. The Pegasus Project consists of journalists that work on stories that were banned from being published.
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Written by Sophie Webster