New law to give sweeping powers to intelligence agencies in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Oct 31 (UNI) The Pakistan government is working on a legislative draft that would provide legal cover to the intelligence agencies, including the ISI and the MI, to detain any citizen on suspicion of involvement in terrorist acitivities, top officials said.

According to the proposed legislation, the agencies would be at liberty to hold any citizen under arbitrary detention without framing any specified charges.

The legislation is being considered against a backdrop of the Supreme Court's directives in the case of the missing persons.

However, a time limit would also be specified under the proposed law to keep a suspect in detention without indictment.

Federal Defence Secretary Kamran Rasool justified the law, saying the Supreme Court had also endorsed this point understanding the present volatile security scenario.

''The apex court has said time and again that Pakistan is facing terrorism threats and the role of agencies cannot be undermined in countering these threats,'' he was quoted by The News as saying.

Attorney General of Pakistan Malik Qayyum said he was in the knowledge of such legislation being drafted. ''But I am not quite sure. I will have to check it again,'' he said when contacted by the paper.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said although he knew that such a law was being considered, he was not aware of the latest situation since the Defence Ministry was handling it.

Senator S M Zafar, chairman of the Senate committee, said he had directed the relevant officials in the last committee meeting to immediately put forward that legislation before them.

Cases of disappearances have raised many an eyebrow over the role of intelligence agencies in the country. Many victims who were released after the apex court intervention have pointed fingers at the premier intelligence agencies.


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