In November 2009 I wrote an article arguing the case for a civilian head of the ISI, our equivalent of Britain’s MI5 (Security Service) and MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service); Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND); France’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE); Israel’s Mossad; and India’s RAW to name a few.
Of 16 Directors of MI5 and 13 of MI6 since the year 1909, only one military man served as director for each of the agencies; in the case of the German BND, of eleven presidents only one was an army general and that too during the Second World War; and in the French DGSE six were civilians and three soldiers since the year 1981.
And now to our special bug-bears: the Indian RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and the Israeli Mossad: RAW has always had civilians head it, all civil servants belonging to various departments of government. Only in the case of Mossad have generals outnumbered civilians but even there have not had a monopoly on the agency.
Each one of the above intelligence agencies reports to the Cabinet Secretary of their respective governments and through that office to the prime minister/president of the country. The chiefs of the defence services have nothing in the world to do with any of the agencies, only receiving briefing papers and other such, like other concerned department heads.
Why am I repeating what I said some years ago? Because the present series of crises this poor and hapless country is facing are a direct consequence of a rampant ISI that is working outside the limits set by the Rules of Business and which is goose-stepping into the realm of other departments of government merely because it has a serving general at its head and therefore considers itself a part of the untouchable army.
Take the so-called Case of the Murky Memo. A person of low credibility writes an article in an international newspaper fingering a high official of government and the president himself in an unbelievable ‘plot’ to defang the security establishment of its coup-making prowess, and the DG ISI himself goes marching off to London to ‘investigate’ his own president without as a by-your-leave of the government of Pakistan! I ask you!
And this when the ISI is not an investigative body; does not have the authority to prosecute anyone, and the DG has no experience whatsoever in police work. Yet he takes it upon himself to become the investigator, prosecutor and judge? I ask you! At the same time, whilst making a report to his ‘chief’, the COAS, he conveniently overlooks the severe abuse and insults heaped upon the ISI itself by that same person of low credibility. There is not a squeak out of anyone in the Deep State about THIS aspect of the article, some portions of which have been seized upon selectively to launch a witch-hunt, what else.
This whole tamasha started when, instead of the prime minister who is the actual appointing authority, the present chief of army staff acting on his own advice to himself ‘appointed’ the present DG of the ISI. Whilst the methodology of appointing the DG of the ISI, invariably a serving general of the Pakistan army, is flawed ab initio — the COAS suggesting three names of which the PM has to choose one (!) — the fact that the present incumbent was chosen by the COAS made it doubly disastrous.
Another reason for the timing of this piece is the recent noise generated on the Internet, particularly on Twitter by Imran Khan’s PTI trolls whose one aim in life seems to be to trash everyone who disagrees with their Great Leader in the most vile (and very stupid) manner. Some of them asked the question “Who controls the ISI?”, and when told it was the PM, loosed a veritable tsunami of abuse on everyone and Charlie’s Aunt going so far as to say the Pakistan army was the saviour of the country etcetera, and how dare the PM control the ISI and other words to that effect. Whilst one can understand their defence of the security establishment given the PTI’s allegedly close ties to it they should be a little more circumspect in the manner in which they defend people accused of aiding and abetting the Great Leader.
Anyhow, trolls do what trolls are supposed to do so let us let them be. What should concern every thinking citizen of this country is how to rein in the ISI which has disappeared our own people; which has destabilised governments, the present effort being one such; which has mounted no-confidence moves against elected, sitting governments; and which is positioning itself to play what seems like a destructive role in post-NATO Afghanistan.
To my mind the best way is to firmly bring it under civilian control in the Cabinet Division of the government of Pakistan. This will be easier done if a civilian from amongst the civilian cadre of the ISI sits at the head of the organisation. I know that there are some excellent civilian officers who are unable to rise to senior positions which are booked for army generals followed by a sprinkling of air force and naval officers. The present government should make this an imperative for itself and let the devil take the hindmost!
A word to the prime minister: Will you please stop blowing red-hot and then stone-cold? Whilst one so appreciated your brave statements in and outside parliament about not allowing a state within a state, one was gobsmacked when you said you meant the defence secretary was creating one. What inanity was that, Makhdum Sahib?
You didn’t stop there and went one worse when you said you had done ‘minnat’ of Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani and Shuja Pasha to take their extensions. And even though you tried to back-pedal the next day it was futile. ‘Minnat’ does mean ‘to beg’. So, keep your eye on the ball; don’t flinch; and if you can harness the Deep State you will be a hero.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.
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What i make of this article is: "Blame the ISI and army for bringing the memo to the forefront".. Get a life Mr Shafi. Your line clarifies all your intentions "Take the so-called Case of the Murky Memo."...
@Akram: Lo and behold, Did you forget they were planning to shift the fearsome GHQ moved into the capital, Islamabad, to be in the close proximity of civilian rulers, to be nearby the jugular vein? This country was made for the Army, and not for 'bloody civilians'. They regret being outside of the capital, and therefore put their foot on the neck of a toothless CDA to earmark a sizable chunk (in thousands of acres) of land in Islamabad for constructing a multi-billion worth of GHQ complex on taxpayers' money.
Authour's analysis about ISI being headed by a civilian and its chain of reporting appear
to be quite valid and correct but most of Pakistan's problems seem to be due to apparently weak civilian 'Institutions' . 'Institution building' takes long and the 'Civil Institutions' have to prove that they are can offer a viable alternative before credible changes can take place .
Secret agencies relish their images as all powerful.
CIA FBI are not popular in US
Their over secretive ways pick people.
For instance why Press cannot have access to investigation on MEMO done by ISI.
@ Kamran Shafi
Sir, Be ready to come forward and work for THAT BLOODY CIVILIAN whom you are advocating to appoint as spy master @ ISI ..............
Pakistani Civilians run from pillar to post and get elected to mint as much as wealth as possible in shortest possible time.
They wont work and then People like you should volunteer for working at their places....I can see you can do the job very well..........coz............you know very well...
if civilian gov. can prove worthy of controlling Army & ISI then each Pakistani will support your idea but the situation of civilian gov. & it's core instituation is.....only 2 Parlimentarians showed up to attend a scheduled session of balochistan assembly.....&....so is the case of National assembly. Do u know any minister who had revived a failing instituation.....all we have seen dis-integrating....falling apart civil instituations.....WAPDA, Railways, PIA are just as an example.....
At least, we should measure the IQ and cognitive abilities of the Gen Pasha and Gen Kayani. There should be a threashold, below which they generals should be fired
1) I can imagine that a civilian could be appointed to the job but he might possess only the responsibility, not the authority, to perform it. He or she would have to have the authority to discipline military personnel under his command and this seems unlikely in today's Pakistan.
2) It isn't just who's-on-top that matters in a democracy but accountability. The U.S. got this one right from the start: inspector generals empowered and appointed by the legislature who report back to it, independent and not subject to the military chain-of-command. Many, many, problems are discovered and eliminated in this fashion as the culture changes to empower honest behavior over corrupt conduct.
I have never voted for anyone yet, so please don't think of me as a troll, but does it suit a journalist, by definition objective ad impartial, to use the word troll, and simply wave away a section of our well-meaning but generally impetuous youth? I might be wrong, but I think this author spends too much time reading the comments on his articles.
Mr KS is Principally & Politically correct, My observation/opinion of the bloggers who are negating his views are"" -Totally incomprehensible attitude towards the happening of last 250 years of human development. -They failed to understand post industrialization human develoment. -Failed to grasp the concept of democracy, its how, when, where & Who. -Oblivious of our own history,believe what they have been fed only. -Totally failed to look at it critically. -Some are even airing their biases ethnic or otherwise.
Mr. Writer! Few things in this world has no-limits! Why don't you probe into different institutions you named in the very inception of your article and their modus operandi?
every article you write seems to end up with Imran Khan and PTI bashing. Its pretty sad, I think you should find a new hobby...whether you write 10 articles a week or not, PTI's popularity is growing.
Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people living life in peace You, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one I hope some day you'll join us And the world will be as one . . .
Superb article. Kamran Shafi is always sensible & convincing. The problem is people are wrongly fed about the thought of civilian supermacy over the military. It can be changed once a strong civilian govt with an honest & capable leader at the helm of the affairs.
Theoratically speaking, a nation's army is also supposed to be under a civillian commander-in-chief.
The last paragraph summarize the whole thing. If the PM has to go, he will go anyways, the deep state has already decided on bringing in imran, the PM just need to pass the laws with the support of the parliament (which he will surely have) to bring the mammoth under civilian control. People will love him for this and the same people force will bring him back.
nice article. it is an irony that we hardly find such a good piece of writing from our columnists reason being they fear from ISI as well
I am a "troll" of PTI (as you say sir). I support your doctrine of civilian supremacy over ISI. However, only a credible and performing civilian government can reign in this monster with a massive public support and not otherwise.
When OBL was killed in a US attack everyone in the media declared it an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan. But when General Pasha went beyond his mandate to investigate a memo, media declared him hero.
@Umer - In the face of the gigantic challenge presented, they did a superb job. Now if they get more funding then maybe they will be able to impress you with flying colours!
Protect the nation from what? Look around you. Do you see a protected nation in Baluchistan, FATA/tribal area, Swat, Mehran Base, GHQ, Abbotabad and on and on? This lack of protecting after spending thousands of billions of nation's money on defence is indeed not a good deal.
Thumbs Up! ISI is in its right place, they take their oath of honor seriously! Nation owes it them for protecting Pakistan in the most challenging times!
Well done sir. This article is brilliantly written. Keep it up Shafi Saab
Excellent, Blame the complete utter Failures of this allegedly-treasonous government and on the ISI. Only a Politician who enjoys the confidence of the educated masses could take the power away from the army and ISI, like Imran right now.
@Questioner: And Sir, would you care to share with us that if ISI is a intra military organization why is it invested with safeguarding the entire country's security and not just the military ??? Isn't Military Intelligence enough for it ??? you have an answer to that Mr. Questioner ?
This piece reaffirms two points - one that this is a pipe dream, and two that Pakistan is actually a basket case!
nice article. ISI has become a source of embarrassment to our country. Let it be Kashmir ,Mumbai attacks .OBL incident etc.
not going to happen...
ISI and Army needs to stay supreme as this is the only institution in Pakistan that follows the oath of honor to serve the people and protect the Nation. The civillian government can be corrupted and so far has lacked performance. Pakistan's ISI and Army are doing a fantastic job and they honor their responsbility honestly towards the country. ISI has to do what it has to do to protect and safegaurd the Nation and same holds true for the Army.
Perfectly happy with ISI -- 2nd to none in the World!
I whole-heartedly support KS.Prime Minister Gilani has established for himself a reputation of picking up always right person for the right job.I would suggest we bring back the gentleman as DG ISI who performed so well as head of OGDC.,some Khawaja if I remember correctly.
@Ahsan Chawla who writes..."So the ISI can join the long list of failed institutions headed by our great democratic leaders? No thankyou"
When has ISI been successful? And please don't parrot "ISI ended the cold war by demolishing USSR". We all know the truth.
@faraz: Actually, majority of army is built upon British structure, Russian, Chinese and German arms.
@Zaid Hamid: By using hindi version of "sabji lal parcham", you conclusively revealed yourself to be the Indian troll that you are. :-)
@Baloch Youth how can democracy be good for pakistan when people of pakistan do not know their rights, where the votes are purchased for one time food... and democracy is the best revenge is just slogan to get votes and thats it...
Touche! Bravo KS. Brilliant caption. The caption does say it all. But u know too well that "All countries have an army. Pakistan army has a country."!!!
As long as the ISI is allowed to be a "state within a state", answerable to no government office, then Pakistanis will have to be happy living under a dictatorship where elections mean nothing to the powers that be, since the "electees" (and the Supreme Court) have no real power to change Pakistan for the better!
Inter Services Intel shall have a head from the services. Civils have IB, which by the way does nothing close to Intelligence
@Mirza: You say that "There can never be a military coup in the US against an elected govt, no matter what the excuse might be." Please note that the armed forces of the United States are sworn to protect The Constitution, so in case the politicians or the courts tried to usurp power in violation of the constitution, suspending elections etc, then the US military would react against them!
No comments as media is everywhere controlled by ISI stooges.
this is simply absurd. ISI is fine as it is
One thing i dont understand. Why is IK mentioned in every other article? The so called liberals are irritated by the mere presence of him, yet they will never miss a chance to bring him in their writings. Army is an institution of this state and the current stand on memo is supported by Nawaz Shareef, Shaikh Rasheed and other parties. These parties are also all praise for the ISI & Army. Do i see any mention of them in the article?
I believe its the incompetence of civilian leadership which has taken things so far. If the civilians provide good governance and alleviate the sufferings of public. Army has no reason to interfere then. Bringing ISI and the Army under civilian authority is possible but once the civilian government perform enough so the public will stand by them.
This has happened in Turkey. Possible here too.
Excellent article! Our PM needs to stand up to any transgressions by the establishment. Btw I am a PTI supporter.
Well said Shafi Sahib, I second your proposal! Additionally, can someone ask the honorable CJP to take suo motto notice of Asghar Khans petition lying with his courts since 1996. According to the petition ISI interfered with the civilian political setup by paying money to their "assets" so they would campaign against the Elected Government of Pakistan, if I am not wrong that would be construed as treason.
ISI reports to the army and is used as the dirty tricks department of the army. Army rules Pakistan. Period. There is no simple or easy eay to change that.
The constitution demands that government ensure rule of law and basic human rights to every citizen of Pakistan. May I ask you which government to date has ever adhered and complied to this provision of the constitution? If the people of Pakistan are illiterate, backward, ignorant and compelled to vote for the same parties then it does not mean Pakistan's security should also be handed to the same leaders and ISI be included in the long list of failed and bankrupt institution of this country. Voting does not mean signing away your life and country. Gradually when responsible leadership takes over and fulfils their constitutional responsibilities then they can demand their constitutional rights of supremacy over non-elected institutions as well.
Sir ISI stands for inter-services intelligence (army, navy and airforce). Would you remind your readers of why does it make sense for a civilian to head a military organization which comprises mostly of military commissioned men?
Can you also remind us what good is FIA and IB doing under civilian control? What are are metrics for bringing terrorists to justice over years?
First of all it is possible only in case when our politicians and civilian leaders are capable. We have seen all other institutes under civilians like Police, F.I.A and other paramilitary forces but whenever state security institutes come under civilians, they use them for personal purposes and against opposition parties to make them pay for their criticism like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. A fair and true leader can deal with this situation who thinks for country, who does for country & who lives for country. If such institutes keep all corruption record and history of civilian leaders then keeping all in their mind, how can they obey them and will come under civilian custody. First civilians must have to prove themselves that they are capable to control it but if you wish to see our ISI under the most corrupt civilian like Rehman Malik then who damn would be agreed?
We would love to have a civilian head of the ISI, but with the supreme commander of the armed forces a person like Zardari and with his ilks filling the Cabinet and characters of doubtful character leading national ministries (R.Malik et al), i doubt that a civilian DG would be able to sustain the pressures. With the cases like that of memogate, i am sure the story would have been buried long ago had the military not taken a stand.
Why was General Pasha not called before the parliament to apprise it on why he rushed to London on his own? Weak parliament, weak federal government. Why put all the blame on ISI, sir?
I am all for ISI's accountability but in your picture, sir, you seem to be blaming the holy-bull more than the civilian government.
Your info regarding western agencies structure is incorrect.
When the head is corrupt and may be part of the memogate scandal , you dont go running to him. Please read whistleblowing process to increase your knowledge.
You fail to mention why the PM blows hot and cold! its because their is two distinct groups within PPP ,, hawks and doves. The hawks are all Zardari league!!
Also memogate cant jut be a farce or the PM would not have illegally set up a 27 member committee to look at, which by the way does not have the manidate of the parliament.
Inrelation to Troll, Sir are you aware that the so called Human Rights and freedom of speech are blocking people on social media just because they were asked a polite question or respectfully challenged.
@salsal....... yeah exactly...ayub fought cold war....zia fought afghan jihad.....musharaf fought war on terror...
Dear Kamran, Apart from civilian head I have another solution which is to move GHQ to distant corner of the country e.g Pannu Aakal cantonment . The mere physical closeness of GHQ near capital is the biggest symbolic threat to the Government. Let them be in distant corner of Sindh and I would see how many dignitries ( foreqign and local) would visit them. I know its impossible but who knows. Move them away from the capital , this will deifntaley make huge impact . Akram
@SalSal: Are you sure that our foreign policy which has been under the control of our establishment was not dictated to us by America?
Are you comparing this incompetent democracy with the western? These politicians can't solve their personal problems and you're talking given the control of worlds one of the best Agency under them. There is a need in pakistan to have a independent agency with no political interference
With due respect, I don't get the PTItroll part in the middle. The question you stated from the PTI 'troll' is absolutely relevant to the topic, you answering the question, is evidence of it. How is it trolling then?
My point is if you are going to continuously alienate and unjustly criticize a large majority of your readers, don't expect them to sit silently and read.
Democratization of Media Sir!
I am really amazed tosee knowledge of common pakistanis about CIA and USA planes. Pakistanis know every thing to do with ISI/paki ARMY even it comes to mind of any American.
Good idea... but ISI has launched its player ( harry potter aka imran khan) to get them what they want.
We have the entire IB (Intelligence Bureau) controlled by civilians. And how can we trust this civilian government, whose President's Father once called Quaid-e-Azam a fool, and its coalition partners like MQM whose leader once called Creation of Pakistan a blunder in the sub-continent, beside ANP, whose ideology is of Badshah Khan's. who was pro-gandhi and was totally against the creation of Pakistan. We would prefer to have a civil control over everything, but unfortunately, army is the safest option for the people of Pakistan, because they are nurtured to die for this country
Well said Sire!
The ISI needs to be "civilized"
The military establishment is built on US arms, weapons and training. Starting from CEATO SENTO to Afghan Jihad to War on Terror, army is the real beneficiary of the alliance with US
KS, you are spot on once again. In the US the defense and CIA chief are mostly civilians. Not only that, in either case they are confirmed/rejected by the senate after a long hearing. They have to satisfy the senate about their worthines. Each promotion in the army also has to go through this gruelling process of civilian supermacy. Our generals are here to open the door of elected president's limo and fly his official plane. There can never be a military coup in the US against an elected govt, no matter what the excuse might be.
For now the more far away our agencies are from the current civilian government the better. But in future yes .. things should run the way they should. We are an independent nation non the less and we have our own constitution and the least we can expect from our leaders and our government and most importantly our most respected parliament is to make sure that EVERY department follows the constitution. All the members of Senate, Parliament, Army ( naval, airforce), the judiciary implement on their oaths and that is the only way to have some harmony between every department or else the country will keep on falling apart. We have the road map we have the instructions all we need is proper implementation on them.
No matter what.. ISI is the supreme power..Invisible Soldiers of Islam.. they are protecting sabji lal parcham
@SalSal: That comment gave me a good laugh, brother! In Pakistan, it seems, every one is a comedian. Regards, Rehan
You'll face a lot of questioning and you'd also face death threats alaa Saleem Shehzad style but this piece is what Pakistan needs...! Being a military man doesnt make you one but intellegent...army teaches man how to make it through animal like situations...I can elaborate on that but a only a civilian can bring ISI on its own basic purpose!
So the ISI can join the long list of failed institutions headed by our great democratic leaders? No thankyou. And how do you know the said trolls were "Imran Khan's trolls"? Anyone can say what they like,that doesn't mean they represent the party itself.
Would you feel safe with ISI under Dr. (K.U.) Rahman Malik, the NRO deal broker in Benazir-Musharraf reconciliation? Dr. Malik is also owner of the London bases spy agency ‘Shaffaf Limited’ Crown House Suit, 603 – 604, North Circular Road, London, NW10 7PN
I think the problem is that civilian leadership is controlled by the West so the ISI gets to stay out of US control as long as it doesn't have the same interests. That's one reason why I wouldnt want it to be controlled by a civilian govt
Will our parliamentarians debate the intelligence and defence strategy and structures appropriate thereto that they want for this country over the next 20-25 years? From that debate they should hand over to the Joint Chiefs, the task for which the Chiefs should prepare plans and have these approved by DCC. This is how democracies work. Our Parliamentarians do not work or are incapable of hard work or just plain do not know.
You show them short cuts like appointing a civillian head of ISI. Laudable indeed. However, if strategy, structures and plans are made elsewhere why and how would the control move some plsce else. KS drum some sense into our so called leaders. Do the speeches of our PM bring respect to his Office? Does the President of any country call out his Chief Justice from the rostrum in a Public Meeting? Shame on all of us !!!!!!