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UK silence on embassy bugging irks Pak

Islamabad, Nov. 30 (PTI): Pakistan has warned the UK that its continued silence over the alleged bugging of Islamabad’s high commission in London by a British spy agency may affect bilateral cooperation in key areas, including counter-terrorism.

Pakistan’s principled stance on the issue was conveyed to Britain during a recent visit of senior foreign office and interior ministry officials to the UK.

“During meetings with British foreign and commonwealth officials, we told them Pakistan may cease cooperation with UK in counter-terrorism measures and intelligence sharing in key areas unless the British government clarifies its position over the issue,” local daily Dawn quoted Pakistani official as saying.

They said Pakistan asked the UK to clarify the sting operation was authorised by the British home secretary under relevant laws besides making it clear whether it was deemed “necessary” or was the operation taken up by the British spy agency MI5 on its own.

Pakistan believes that the situation was further compounded after the British home office’s recent denial authorising MI5 to bug the Pakistani mission.

Pakistani officials said the British foreign office’s contention that it could not comment on intelligence matters “angered” the Pakistani government, which supported the UK and the US in their war against terrorism and arrested more than 600 Arab and Afghan al Qaida supporters.

“We told the British officials that...MI5 is not above the law and is answerable to the government, which must accept responsibility,” the officials said, adding “if a swift response from the British government is not forthcoming, we might have to decide about the scope of cooperation with MI5 operatives in the war against terror.”

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