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Pak backtracks on placing ISI under civilian control

Pak backtracks on placing ISI under civilian control

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: Indian Express
Dated: July 29, 2008

The Pakistan government has abruptly backtracked on a decision to place the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency under the control of the Interior Ministry apparently due to pressure from the army and President Pervez Musharraf.

The government's U-turn came less than 24 hours after an official notification issued on Saturday said the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau were both being placed under the control of the Interior Ministry.

The change also highlighted the delicate balance of power between the new civilian government and the influential army. Saturday's notification, which an official press release said was approved by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the ISI and IB were being placed "under the administrative, financial and operational control" of the Interior Ministry with "immediate effect". Gilani left Pakistan for an official visit to the US the same day. As pressure from the army mounted on the government on Sunday, an official spokesman virtually reversed the notification, saying that the "ISI will continue to perform its functions under the Prime Minister". The notification regarding control of the ISI was being "misinterpreted", he said. The spokesman further said the "notification only re-emphasises more coordination between the ministry of interior and ISI in relation to the war on terror and internal security". He added that details would "be clarified in a comprehensive notification".

There was confusion about the status of the IB as the spokesman was silent on who would control the organisation.

The ISI is technically supposed to be under the control of the PM but has traditionally functioned as a part of the influential army.

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