Theories abound in Islamabad over ISI fiasco

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Islamabad, July 29 : Several reasons are being cited in Islamabad for the sudden U-turn by Pakistan government of putting back the intelligence agency ISI under the purview of the country's prime minister. But, the ultimate conclusion is that the Pakistan government's image has received a dent in the fiasco, which was later described as a 'misunderstanding' on the part of the federal government, said an editorial in the Daily Times.

According to one theory, the federal government did it on the eve of the prime minister's visit to Washington to please the Americans who are unhappy with the ISI's role in Afghanistan.

But, another theory making rounds is that Zardari's obsession with the ISI's potential for interference in the politics of the country lay behind the decision to try and tame it. There are also those who think that perhaps Interior Minister Rehman Malik wants greater responsibility for both internal and external security because the two are inextricably linked in the current environment and can't get this without bringing the IB and ISI under his personal control.

"Whatever the facts, the government has shot itself in the foot. This is no way to go about bringing the ISI under civilian control. The whole issue of the ISI is linked to the larger issue of civil-military power relations and the nature of the national security state that we have built up over the years," said the editorial.

It added that only a long drawn out and 'mature transition' to functional democracy by wise civilian leaders will resolve that issue. Until then, it would be better to refrain from such half-clever measures.

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