ISLAMABAD- Pakistan Navy has launched an internal probe under the direct supervision of one of its top bosses into the reported involvement of Navy personnel in the kidnappings for ransom and extortion activities in Pakistan's largest cosmopolitan city Karachi.

The Director General Naval Intelligence (DG NI) Jawed Akhar is leading the investigation under the command of Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Administration) Vice Admiral Shafqat Jawed, it is learnt.

According to intelligence sources, the probe would also cover allegations involving the killing of a low-ranking Navy official at the hands of Naval Police and NI at the NHQ Islamabad last year.

A media report on Friday had revealed the involvement of three NI personnel including two assistant directors in the kidnapping of a trader from Karachi. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of five million rupees for the trader's release. One of the abductors was nabbed after being shot by a police officer when he was receiving the ransom amount, the media report stated. Two of the three accused NI personnel are identified in the report as Assistant Director Ishfaq and Sepoy Dilpazir Akhtar while another reported assistant director remained unidentified.

Reportedly, this has rung alarm bells within the top naval circles after an initial internal probe is said to have verified the allegations regarding the involvement of naval personnel in extortions and kidnappings in Karachi.

Following this, Naval Chief Admiral Asif Sandila reportedly assigned the top officials at Operations Branch and NI directorate to conduct a detailed probe into these allegations.

A Pakistan navy commander at the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Islamabad and a navy commander at the NI in Karachi are jointly conducting the investigation and they would report the respective findings to the DG NI, to be shared with the Deputy Naval Chief (operations) before being put up to the Naval Chief, the intelligence sources said.

This is not the first time that NI officials have been found involved in allegedly highhanded methods against common citizens and even the Navy personnel. Last year, Naval Police had arrested a sweeper from the NHQ Islamabad on theft charges. He was reportedly handed over to the NI. Allegedly, the Naval Police and NI officials tortured the sweeper to death during the interrogation.

The deceased's father, who was also reported to be a Navy employee, had purportedly protested over the incident but the Naval authorities had allegedly hushed up the issue by financially accommodating the said person.

Back in 2011, journalist Saleem Shahzad had reported about alleged contacts between the Taliban militants and some naval officials before he was kidnapped and brutally killed.

Shahzad had reported that attack on Mehran Base in Karachi was the result of failed negotiations between the naval authorities and militants for the release of those navy officials who were probed for having alleged links with the militants and were detained at NHQ Karachi. Interestingly, the NHQ Karachi is the same place where the captive trader, according to Friday's media report, was kept.

Earlier, responding to the kidnapping allegations, Pakistan Navy's Spokesman Commodore Irfan-ul-Haq had said on Friday that Navy denied any involvement of NI personnel in abduction or extortion activities. The incident reported by a section of newspaper and media channel was being investigated in coordination with civil police, he had said, adding that if any of Navy person was found going beyond the lawful mandate, strict disciplinary action would be initiated accordingly.

The DG NI-led investigation, the intelligence officials said, is mandated to ascertain the extent of the involvement of Naval personnel in allegedly highhanded activities, by means of finding out the exact number of such kinds of incidents and the number of accused involved.

The revelation regarding NI personnel's alleged involvement in kidnappings and extortion has taken the Pakistan's political circles by storm with some parliamentarians questioning the credibility and capability of the intelligence agencies to deal with terrorism.

Referring to the NI, Senator Ghulam Ali wonders if an intelligence agency involved in extorting money from citizens could "counter Indian espionage," whereas Senator Zahid Khan suggests that the NI personnel, if proved guilty, "should be court-martialled."