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Islam and Politics ( 2 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Is ISI still under Rehman Malik?

By Ansar Abbasi

Saturday, August 02, 2008


ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Division has not formally withdrawn the controversial order on transferring the ISI’s control from the Defence Ministry to the Interior Ministry, raising the question whether the government has again changed its mind and decided to keep the agency under the Interior Ministry.


Within hours of the issuance of the July 26 Cabinet Division notification announcing the placement of the ISI and the IB under the Interior Ministry, the government issued a clarification that the ISI would continue to perform its functions under the prime minister and that the Cabinet Division’s notification was misinterpreted.


Almost, all newspapers and television channels announced that the government had stepped


back on the issue of the ISI’s control amid reports that the decision was reversed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani after he had received two emergency calls from Rawalpindi.


However, on government files, the situation is just the same as it was on Saturday last, i.e. the ISI and the IB stand transferred to the Interior Ministry. No formal order for the reversal of the same notification has been issued so far by the Cabinet Division.


Although, an Interior Ministry source told this correspondent a few days back that some authorities concerned had been verbally conveyed to maintain the pre-July 26 notification status, and unless the said notification was formally cancelled, the confusion would not go.


A journalist who is known for his close association with Asif Ali Zardari wrote in his column on Thursday that it seemed that the PPP had decided to take a stand on the ISI issue. PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar when contacted, however, connected the reversal of the order issue with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik’s statement that he would look into the matter to fix the responsibility.


The Cabinet Division on Saturday last formally notified “the prime minister’s approval for the placement of the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect”.


Late night on July 26, the government through the PID issued a clarification that the ISI will continue to perform its functions under the prime minister, adding the notification regarding the control of the ISI was being misinterpreted.


After the verbal reversal of the order, it was expected that the formal annulment of the notification would be done upon the return of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from his US visit. The prime minister is leaving for Colombo on Saturday but no cancellation order was issued by the Cabinet Division till the filing of this report.


The decision to shift the ISI under the Interior Ministry has been generally criticised for the reason that it was not only ill-timed but also done without proper consultation with all the stakeholders.


The objection was mainly to make the prime intelligence agencies of the country to report to the prime minister’s unelected adviser on interior. While at home, the ISI was the focus of discussion for different reasons, the US administration and the American media at the same time, during Gilani’s visit to Washington, resorted to ISI bashing.


The US administration seeks the blind following of its dictates, particularly with regard to the so-called war on terror, by the government of Pakistan, the Pak-Army and the ISI no matter what price Islamabad has to pay for it. The US administration and the American media have launched scathing attacks on the ISI for not doing what the US desires from it.


Source: The News, Pakistan