Bill for civilian oversight on ISI bold move: Daily

July 10th, 2012 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, July 10 (IANS) A bill that seeks to increase civilian oversight of the Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) is a bold and welcome move, said a leading daily, adding that the spy agency has often been accused of overreaching its domain.

An editorial in the Dawn Tuesday said that right from “interference in domestic politics to enforced disappearances to the harassment of citizens on dubious premises, ISI has often been accused of overreaching its domain and resisting civilian control, despite technically being answerable to the prime minister”.

It said that “…suspicions about its role linger - exacerbated by the swift shutting down of efforts to bring it under the purview of the interior ministry - and a private member’s bill that now seeks to increase civilian oversight of the ISI is a bold and welcome move”.

The daily said that the ISI can’t be treated like any other government department due to the sensitive nature of the issues the agency deals with.

“So a tricky balance will have to be struck between accountability and ensuring that sensitive information, and the country’s security, are not compromised. Either too much or too little interference could render such an oversight framework ineffective,” it said.

The daily observed that timidity is also obvious in the approach the government has taken.

“The proposed legislation has been introduced as a private member’s bill but was moved by the president’s spokesperson and high-profile PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) loyalist Farhatullah Babar, indicating an attempt to test the waters without putting the party in a position where it has to own the bill if the gamble doesn’t pay off,” it said.

“And perhaps this is such tricky terrain that a pragmatic strategy is needed. However it was introduced, though, its reception in parliament should be an interesting test of how willing elected representatives are to assert rightful civilian control.”

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