Confusion prevails over ISI reporting line

August 2nd, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, Aug 2 (IANS) Confusion prevails over the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency’s reporting line, with the order transferring it from the prime minister’s secretariat to the interior ministry not having been formally withdrawn. This has “raised the question whether the government has again changed its mind and decided to keep the agency under the interior ministry”, The News said Saturday.

On July 26, within hours of a Cabinet Division notification bringing the ISI, as also the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the interior ministry, the government clarified that the ISI would continue to function under the prime minister and that the earlier notification had been misinterpreted.

Most newspapers and TV channels reported the next day that the government had stepped back on the issue amid reports that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had reversed the decision after receiving two emergency calls made at the behest of President Pervez Musharraf.

On the files, however, “the situation is just the same as it was on (June 26), and the ISI and the IB stand transferred to the interior ministry,” The News said, adding that the Cabinet Division had not issued a formal order reversing its earlier notification.

A verbal communication had been received on maintaining the pre-July 26 position but “unless the notification was formally cancelled, the confusion would not go”, the newspaper quoted an interior ministry source as saying.

The ISI, which has been in the thick of numerous controversies, finds itself facing its toughest test yet with the CIA releasing transcripts of what it claims are messages between one of its operatives and the attackers of the Indian embassy in Kabul last month.

US President George Bush, during his meeting with Gilani in Washington last week, is reported to have pointedly asked whom who the ISI’s real boss was.

The Cabinet Division had July 26 notified “the prime minister’s approval for the placement of the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect”.

Late the same day, the government verbally clarified that the ISI would continue to function under the prime minister, adding that the previous notification was being misinterpreted.

A formal reversal of the order was expected on Gilani’s return from his US visit. However, he left Saturday for Colombo to attend the SAARC summit with no cancellation order being issued.

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