An old desire: Is Gov trying to place ISI under civilian control?

by Tauqeer Abbas


The Pakis­tan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has increased the civilian share in the senior hierarchy of the country’s premier intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).



Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sep­t 15, 2017 approved a proposal to increase the number of directors general (DGs) — the highest civilian post in the agency — from one to four.


The post of civilian DG in the ISI is a grade 21 position, equivalent to a serving major general of the armed forces .Previously, there was only one civilian DG post in the intelligence agency.


PM Abbasi approved the summary sent to the PM Office by the Defence Ministry, proposing four civilian DGs in the ISI.



In addition, the prime minister has also enhanced the number of deputy directors general (DDGs) from eight to 15. The same summary recommended the creation of seven additional DDG posts for civilian officers in grade 20.


An official of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not comment on the development, but said that since the prime minister was the competent authority, as the ISI worked under the PM Secretariat, it was his prerogative to increase the sanctioned posts in the agency.


Civilian Government has long wish to place ISI under its control but all the attempts were foiled by military establishment as they do not trust in Pakistan’s civilian elite.


In 2008 Peoples Party’s Government tried to place ISI under civilian control but they were forced to retract the notification within 24 hours and created an extreme tension between various sections of the government and establishment and as a result of intense back-channel efforts.



In 2010 Asif Ali Zardari confessed that Political forces in Pakistan want the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency to be placed under civilian control but the matter has been put on the backburner for the time being.



Now once by increasing the number of civilians in ISI show the intentions of the Government to change the  powerful ISI’s stance towards Civilian Government and made it friendly towards Civilian leadership. Apart from this it may be an attempt to slowly bring ISI under interior ministry and Civilian control.

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