Parliamentary oversight over intelligence agencies a must: PILDAT


Intelligence agencies of Pakistan must work under a legal remit and that parliament must oversee the working of intelligence sector, just like all other sectors of government, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has recently published in a report titled Legal Remit and Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence.
The report points out that a private member’s bill, titled Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (Functions, Powers and Regulation) Bill 2012, was submitted by Senator Farhatullah Babar of PPP in the Senate of Pakistan in this regard though it would have been much better if the senator had done his homework within his party and its coalition partners so that the bill could be introduced on behalf of the ruling coalition with greater chances of its passage.
Such legal courses can be taken as the one taken in the UK “where a somewhat unique system of intelligence oversight exists since 1994 in the form of Intelligence and Security Committee consisting of MPs who are appointed by the Prime Minister and reports directly to the Prime Minister”.
The report also hits on the tone of a part of the media that has been reporting and commenting in a sensational and negative manner on Senator Babar’s proposed bill. It says that “most media reporting and comment has termed the bill as an effort to “control” the ISI. In reality, setting legal terms of intelligence work, just like any other entity, is considered a positive and crucial aspect of defining their role and parameters.”
The report has criticised the new terms of engagement with the US on resuming the Nato supply routes. “Whether the collaboration between the civil and the military relationship has resulted into better policy options for Pakistan is a separate question on which all kinds of analysis are put forward. That Pakistan eventually agreed to resume NATO supplies without signing any formal memorandum of understanding or agreement is a cause of concern. What is of equal concern is the continuous secrecy over the new terms of agreement over resumption of NATO trucks.”
The report has admired the role of the Supreme Court being the only institution that continues to question the agencies on the case of missing persons in Balochistan. It says that there is often ambiguity on the role of oversight of the FC.
The report further reads, “More important than the allegation that agencies are running the affairs of Balochistan is the question whether what they are doing is outside of the control and contrary to the diktats of the elected government. Is the elected government shy of taking an unpopular position publicly or has it abdicated its responsibility to the military?”
The report lays focus on the mistrust in civil-military relations in the past year, with Memo scandal being the top example. “Perhaps an accurate depiction of the civil-military relationship in Pakistan is that each one is thinking the other is out to get one. The Memo Commission’s conclusions have served to reinforce and strengthen that perception.
The report further takes on a scandal involving the property tycoon of Pakistan, Malik Riaz, accusing the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, for promising him a ‘favourable verdict’ in return of transfer of money and favours by Malik Riaz, and the alleged role of agencies in this saga. It suggests that the Pakistan army must thoroughly investigate the issue and make the investigation findings public. If it is not the institution of the ISI and the doing of only some individuals also, those individuals must be brought to justice.
The report then delves into another important issue of this year involving agencies was the alleged death threats and a plan to assassinate Asma Jehangir by agencies. Ms Jehangir is well-known for her open criticism of the intrusion of the military in politics. While every life is precious and the state must protect the lives of all citizens, given Ms Jehangir’s accusation the government must investigate it fully while providing security to her.
The report hopes that Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the newly elected as the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, would work his best to publish reports on the ministry’s expenses.
The report says that the COAS had been commenting on topics totally irrelevant to his job. Some believe that Gen Kayani’s support to democracy should be welcomed but in reality, he is only doing his job. In Pakistan’s peculiar civil-military relations, our hopes should not be pinned on individuals’ conduct but on institutional policies that should deter individuals holding the COAS post from a misadventure into politics.
On the issue of violence in Karachi, the report says that “very often as security and law and order situation in Karachi goes out of hand, we hear some political quarters making a call for military operations”. This is a wrong trend and it needs to stop. “A more plausible way to deal with the law and order situation is strengthening civilian law-enforcement agencies. The police can be further enhanced to make an effective outfit for dealing with crime-related incidents in a city like Karachi.”


  1. .
    Any organ that can singularly act as a Judge, Jury and Executioner is a threat to democracy …

  2. "Any organ that can singularly act as a Judge, Jury and Executioner is a threat to democracy … "
    and in long run to the existence of the country itself. No people, however weak and helpless, can accept the use of naked brutal force (as has been the case in East Pakistan and now Baluchistan) forever..

  3. What this parliament did with railway. PIA, Steel Mill and many other institutes that are under them.

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