Islamabad, Nov. 24: Pakistan today described Britain’s internal spy service MI5’s bid to bug its embassy in London as an “irritant” and asked the British government to “quickly” explain its position.
“We only want to know if the bugging operation took place under British home secretary David Blunkett’s directive,” foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said at a regular press breifing.
The Sunday Times newspaper in London had reported earlier this month that MI5 had tried to bug Pakistan’s London embassy last year in order to get “valuable” information on the war against terror.
MI5 had hoped to quietly obtain embassy archives of visa applications, a potentially valuable database that could be cross-referenced with other intelligence to help identify possible terrorists, the Lahore-based Daily Times said.
“We have not been conveyed anything by the British government despite our repeated reminders,” Khan said, adding that Pakistan would consider the next step if no response comes from Britain.
He said a team of Pakistani intelligence officials is conducting investigations and will make a final decision soon.
“Although we still have good relations with Britain, which is an important ally in war against terror , they must realise that provocation is not good for relations between the two countries,” Khan said.
MI5’s attempt to bug the embassy was, however, aborted as the building contractor-turned MI5 agent, codenamed Notation, had quit the operation because he felt his cover could easily be blown and his life was in danger.
According to The Sunday Times, the British home secretary had authorised the operation, which led MI5 to infiltrate the embassy and steal codes used by embassy staff to send confidential messages.
“This is high time that the British government should come out with an explanation as this is not an issue which may be brushed under the carpet,” Khan said.