LAHORE: The Supreme Court recently made an observation that the ISI’s political cell has no basis in law.
The political cell was created in 1973 by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto via an executive order and the idea behind its formation then was to counter the insurgency that was raging in Balochistan at that time. This was right after his dismissal of the Sardar Ataullah Mengal government and which was followed by the resignation of the then NWFP government.
Over time, the ISI became a state within a state, especially during the Afghan war under General Ziaul Haq and General Akhtar Abdur Rahman when it was entrusted to implement various key aspects of the country’s security and foreign policies. Since there is no audit of the ISI’s financial position and neither is there any accountability of its activities, it has since been operating with impunity under the command of the director general, who himself reports to the army chief. All this has led to the military’s involvement in politics.
Any attempt by a civilian government to bring the intelligence agency under civilian control has been resisted by the military. An effort was made early on by the PPP government when it took office but the decision was reversed within a few hours. In order to establish rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution, it is imperative that all national institutions work within their legally-defined boundaries and under the guidance and control of parliament.
It is the responsibility of the heads of our various political parties, who claim to represent the will of the people, to pass laws, or amend existing ones, so that all intelligence agencies are held accountable to parliament. It is not in the interest of democracy for the ISI to be playing a role in the politics of the country.
S T Hussain
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.
More in LettersSupremacy of Constitution