Pakistan’s ISI Uses Terror Tracking Against Coronavirus

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his government had enlisted the ISI to deal with the virus in Pakistan.
  • Intelligence agencies typically use geo-fencing to track high-profile targets, including domestic and foreign militants.
  • Pakistan's intelligence services and military wield considerable influence over many aspects of cultural and political life.

Intelligence services are using geo-fencing and phone monitoring systems to track coronavirus patients and those who come in contact with them. Pakistan’s intelligence agency is using the same surveillance technology used to detect Coronavirus patients and those who come in contact with them, as is commonly used to track militants.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan, operationally responsible for gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world. The ISI consists primarily of serving military officers drawn on secondment from the three service branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, and Navy) and hence the name “Inter-Services.”

Highlighting the nature and importance of his Coronavirus program at the public level, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his government had enlisted the help of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to deal with the virus in Pakistan. The rapid spread of the virus can be prevented.

Details of the plan have not been released, but two government officials told AFP that intelligence services were using geo-fencing and phone monitoring systems. Intelligence agencies typically use this technology to track high-profile targets, including domestic and foreign militants.

On the one hand, due to a lack of awareness and fear of stigma in society, some people are avoiding the test despite the symptoms of the coronavirus, even fleeing from hospitals. On the other hand, those who come in contact with patients infected with the virus are violating the principle of isolation.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior security official told AFP that the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency was now using technology to track cases of the coronavirus “quite effectively.”

“The government has also been able to identify people whose test results were positive but who went into hiding,” the security official added. It has been reported that a geo-fencing and tracking system is being used which is an automated system and warns the authorities if a person leaves a certain geographical area. The system has helped officials and personnel monitor neighborhoods during lockdowns.

Authorities are also listening in on phone calls from COVID-19 patients so that they can be monitored and listen to conversations with people in contact with them to gauge whether they are aware of Coronavirus symptoms.

An intelligence officer said, “the trace and track system is essential for us to track the mobile phones of missing or escaped Corona patients, as well as contact them both before and after their disappearance.”

Prime Minister Khan recently praised the program, which is being used to fight the virus, but there has been little public debate. Khan said, “earlier it was being used against terrorism but now it has proved to be effective against the coronavirus.”

A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. The use of a geofence is called geofencing, and one example of usage involves a location-aware device of a location-based service (LBS) user entering or exiting a geo-fence.

The disease has been tested in about 60,000 people in Pakistan, and more than 1,200 patients have died. However, with tests still limited, authorities are concerned that the actual number of coronavirus cases is much higher.

Pakistan’s intelligence services and military wield considerable influence over many aspects of cultural and political life. Human rights groups fear that authorities could use the surveillance system to spy on and target political opponents.

Leading human rights activist and former senator Afrasiab Khattak told AFP, “the search for patients and suspected cases should be done in collaboration with provincial governments and local communities. Let the intelligence agencies do their real work. ”

Countries around the world have used track and trace methods to control the spread of the virus, raising privacy concerns. Israel’s intelligence services have been using counterterrorism technology, including cell phone tracking.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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