Following Zulfiqar Mirza’s unhinged ranting, another certain dust up in Islamabad gained little notice. Even though it gained mostly yawns from the anchors, it may actually have greater implications than is realised.
President Zardari recently appointed Akhtar Buland Rana as Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) on advice of PM Gilani. After the appointment was reporter, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry wrote a letter to the president expressing reservations about the appointment. The Chief Justice’s reservations were based on ISI reports he received.
The CJP raised several objections against Rana in his letter citing seven charges against him.
The letter alleged that Rana obtained a Canadian nationality without seeking prior permission from the government and travels abroad on three Pakistani passports and two national identification cards. It included that Rana attempted sexual assault on a subordinate woman during service and also pointed out that he did not qualify for his promotion to grade-22.
The Supreme Court Registrar on Saturday said the chief justice wrote the letter to the president after the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) sent their reports on Rana’s credentials.
My first thought was, this is silly. The same court that is showing frustration with spy agencies manipulating the courts…are also taking dictation from the spy agencies?
The court believed that the non-serious attitude of the government wasn’t a positive step towards the recovery of missing persons, adding that if spy agencies weren’t involved in their disappearances, they should submit a written statement in the court.
This is also the same Chief Justice that less than five years ago submitted an Affidavit claiming that MI, ISI and IB were interfering with the Supreme Court and Chief Justice himself after Musharraf took them away from their proper duties of defending the nation and dragged them into domestic politics. Now the same Chief Justice believes spy agencies should be meddling in domestic politics? But this raises an even more important question which is why the ISI is meddling in domestic politics in the first place. Sadly, this is not a new issue, but one that continues to prevent progress.
In 1988, ISI formed the right-wing Islami Jamhoori Ittehad in order to compete with the PPP – a fact admitted by former DG ISI Hamid Gul in 2009.
In 2002, the ISI did it again, manipulating elections and making a mockery of the public’s wishes. This was admitted by Maj Gen Ehtesham Zamir who headed the agency’s political wing at the time.
The main wheeler and dealer of the ISI during the 2002 elections, the then Maj-Gen Ehtesham Zamir, now retired, has come out of the closet and admitted his guilt of manipulating the 2002 elections, and has directly blamed Gen Musharraf for ordering so.
Talking to The News, the head of the ISI’s political cell in 2002, admitted manipulating the last elections at the behest of President Musharraf and termed the defeat of the King’s party, the PML-Q, this time “a reaction of the unnatural dispensation (installed in 2002).”
In 2008, the newly elected PPP government closed the political wing of the ISI in hopes that the people could take back control of their own government without interference from spy agencies.
Abida Hussain, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People’s party (PPP) and former ambassador to the US, said: “The ISI should only focus on the ‘war on terror’ rather than undertaking a periodic dirty tricks campaign to reward or punish politicians who either toed their agenda or fell out of line. Why should an intelligence agency which was established to watch for threats from foreign sources become so acutely involved in our domestic politics?”
Three years later and this same question is just as valid. With the threat of extremists trying to infiltrate the military, rogue ex-ISI agents running their own operations outside the control of the official agencies, and rising violence threatening the citizens, why is the ISI still spending its time meddling in domestic politics?
The establishment’s narrative has always been that the military is “the only competent institution in Pakistan”. When it comes to defeating enemies o the nation, I have not a single doubt that the military is the best institution. The operations that cleared anti-Pakistan militants from Swat are proof enough. But militaries break things. They destroy them. And every time the khakis have meddled in domestic politics, they’ve broken it.
Regretting his actions in 2002, Maj Gen Zamir told The News that the ISI’s meddling “had pushed the country back instead of taking it forward”. The solution is easy. Let the military agencies do their own work fighting militants and protecting the people. And let the people do their own work of electing and running the government.