ISLAMABAD Mystery shrouds the secret spy network being run by US military officials in Pakistan, while a spokesperson of US Embassy in Islamabad was tight lipped on Sunday when asked for his comments about this network. A US-based newspaper quoting American officials and businessmen has reported that top military officials have continued to rely on a secret network of private spies, who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. The newspaper further said these officials were continuing spying missions, despite concerns among some in the military about the legality of the operation. Pakistan Army on Sunday said it had not taken NY Times story seriously because it had been reported quoting anonymous sources. We do not need to take the reports seriously because there are neither solid documents and evidence to support the report nor it has come from any authority, said Inter Services Public Relations Spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas when contacted on Sunday. However, the newspaper reported that earlier this year, US government officials had admitted that the military had sent a group of former Central Intelligence Agency officers and retired Special Operations troops into the region to collect information - some of whom were used to track and kill people suspected of being militants. Many portrayed it as a rogue operation that had been hastily shut down once an investigation began. But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, and an examination of government documents, tell a different story. Not only are the networks still operating, their detailed reports on subjects like the workings of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and the movements of enemy fighters in Southern Afghanistan are also submitted almost daily to top commanders and have become an important source of intelligence. Military officials said that when Gen David H Petraeus, the top commander in the region, signed off on the operation in January 2009, there were prohibitions against intelligence gathering, including hiring agents to provide information about enemy positions in Pakistan. The contractors were supposed to provide only broad information about the political and tribal dynamics in the region, and information that could be used for force protection, they said, revealed New York Times report. As a matter of fact, the NY Times story has raised several questions regarding suspicious activities of Americans here in Pakistan, said defence analysts. They further urged the Government of Pakistan to initiate a thorough investigation to initiate thorough investigation to expose such network. Our special correspondent from New York adds: A leading US newspaper reported Sunday the US military has a secret network of private spies still operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, despite concerns about its legality. The New York Times says the private contractors have become an important source of intelligence, even though Defence Department rules that prohibit the hiring of contractors for spying. The Times noted the US military is largely prohibited from operating inside Pakistan. Earlier in the year, US government officials said the network of spies had been shut down, saying it was a rogue operation. The paper said the private spies are being paid under a $22-million contract managed by defence corporation Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy. The New York Times says its report about the continuing spy operation is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, in addition to a number of government documents. Some unnamed Pentagon officials were cited as saying that over time the operation appeared to morph into traditional spying activities. And they pointed out that the supervisor who set up the contractor network, Michael Furlong, was now under investigation. But a review of the programme by The New York Times found that Furlongs operatives were still providing information using the same intelligence gathering methods as before. Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said that the programme remains under investigation by multiple offices within the defence department, so it would be inappropriate to answer specific questions about who approved the operation or why it continues. I assure you we are committed to determining if any laws were broken or policies violated, he said. Spokesmen for General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, declined to comment. Furlong remains at his job, working as a senior civilian Air Force official, The Times said. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expanded role of contractors on the battlefield - from interrogating prisoners to hunting terrorism suspects - has raised questions about whether the United States has outsourced some of its most secretive and important operations to a private army many fear is largely unaccountable, The Times said. The CIA has relied extensively on contractors in recent years to carry out missions in war zones.