Putting the ISI in its place
For a few tense hours between late night on Saturday and the wee hours of Sunday morning, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was “under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division”. That’s about as long as the civilians that presumably run the government can even pretend to keep it under their control.
It was endearing to see Major-General Athar Abbas, the army’s spinmeister, tell us why Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s order was misunderstood: “The MI-5 is responsible for internal security, while the MI-6 deals with external security matters in the United Kingdom. It is illogical to place the MI-6 under the MI-5. Similarly, the ISI cannot be placed under the Interior Ministry’s control.” [Yes, yes, we know. General Athar was misunderstood too. He meant the UK Home Office, not MI-5. A clarification is on the way]
But seriously, what was Mr Asif Ali Zardari thinking? That Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business of 1973 would suddenly start applying…that too to the ISI?