PML-N dubs U-turn on ISI as an 'embarrassment' for Pak PM

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Islamabad, July 28 : The reversal of the decision to place the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under the Interior Ministry's control is "very embarrassing" for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as it occurred while he was en route to the US, said PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq said.

He said that the PPP-led government did not consult the PML-N, who is an outside supporter to the federal government, before taking the decision.

Similarly, Awami National Party (ANP) president of NWFP unit, Afrasiab Khattak said that his party wanted to know what had forced the government to withdraw its decision, reported the Daily Times.

The reversal of the order came in less than 24 hours, following news reports of 'extreme tension' between various sections of the government and establishment and as a result of intense back-channel efforts. According to sources, the Saturday's reversal decision was the result of "immense pressure from defence circles" on the civilian set-up.

Just a day after placing the ISI under control of the interior ministry, the Pakistan government issued another notification which said that the earlier notification had been 'misunderstood' and the ISI would "continue to function under the prime minister".

The original notification had placed the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the interior division's control, but the new one reverses the decision only about the ISI and there is no mention of the IB, creating confusion whether it would continue to work under the prime minister or under the intelligence division.

According to political observers, the development revealed civilian set up's "lack of vision" about national strategic affairs because the earlier decision appears to be a move to make the prime minister's adviser on interior Reham Malik the 'most powerful' head of the interior division ever.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan People's Party co-chairman, is reported to have hailed the decision and termed it a step to save the army from controversies and accusations. "No one will now be able to say that this agency is not under the elected government's control. The interior ministry will now be able to respond to allegations against the ISI," he reportedly said.

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