Ex Pakistan intelligence chief calls for Norway agent arrests

Ex Pakistan intelligence chief calls for Norway agent arrests

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ISLAMABAD: Norway-Pakistan relations could become embittered following Police Security Service (PST) Director Janne Kristiansen’s revelations about espionage agents in the country.

The news spread like wildfire in Pakistan’s diplomatic circles, prompting priority-monitoring action by Pakistani civil and military intelligence agencies.

In an exclusive interview with The Foreigner in Islamabad, former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) General (R) Hamid Gul said, “It’s really pathetic if Norway is involved in such kinds of undertakings in Pakistan that lead to spying or any other activity infringing Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

He added Pakistan and Norway have had a friendly relationship for the last several years, calling the actions “really shameful.”

The retired General said that Pakistani intelligence agencies should arrest any possible undercover agents on spying missions immediately.

When asked about Norway’s high-level involvement in any kind of spying activity in Pakistan, Hamid Gul stated, “It cannot be ruled out that it’s mostly high-profile Embassy officials who are involved in some sort of spying, but they can be kicked out immediately for this practice contravening the ethics of diplomacy.”

A top Islamabad police official, who wished to remain anonymous, informed The Foreigner about some top Norwegian embassy diplomats who have been involved in suspicious activities for past year.

“Interactions by some senior embassy officials with the various notorious communities in Pakistan and their movements in the North-West Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are suspicious and dubious,” he said, refusing to divulge these peoples’ names.

It is pertinent to mention here that relations between Pakistan and Norway have been smooth and very cordial for the past several decades, and there have been huge investments and donations by the government of Norway in some of Pakistan’s various sectors.

The recent issue of Norwegian secret agents in Pakistan on possible espionage missions could potentially ruin both countries’ alliances and affect funding for several ongoing development projects, however.

On condition of anonymity, sources at the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad told The Foreigner that Norway’s and Pakistan’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs are putting staff under immense pressure after the news story broke. 

Both countries are attempting to cool the intense atmosphere, but it could take time to rebuild confidence. Embassy sources further revealed that the high-level officials are trying to satisfy the Pakistani authorities’ concerns about the intelligence operatives and Janne Kristiansen’s resignation.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet commented on the matter to The Foreigner.

Malik Ayub Sumbal is a senior investigative journalist based in Islamabad and South Asian Bureau Chief for The Los Angeles Post.