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ISLAMABAD: Senators called upon the country’s top intelligence agency on Monday to clear its name in cases of attacks on journalists and the matter of enforced disappearances.

The role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was brought up in the house as members discussed Saturday’s attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir in Karachi and allegations levelled by his family against the head of the agency, Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam.

Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch suspended the day’s routine agenda to allow for a debate on the issue.

Senators, mostly from the opposition benches, deplored the “ISI-bashing” that had ensued in sections of the media following the attack on Mr Mir.

They urged the ISI to avail itself of this opportunity and present itself before a newly-announced judicial commission to facilitate investigations and prove that it was not behind the unfortunate incidents.

Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan said that though he had personally been critical of the ISI’s interference in the country’s political history, he believed no one should “jump to (any) accusations against an institution”.

“The ISI has a chequered history. It has fathered and mothered the jihad in Afghanistan. Its involvement was proven in the Asghar Khan case (manipulation of elections), Operation Midnight Jackal and the ill-planned Jalalabad operation of 1989,” he said.

“I was interior minister at the time of Operation Midnight Jackal and I personally took the ISI head on.” But, he said, care should be taken not to malign the entire institution before the judicial commission had a chance to probe the matter.

“The ISI should take (these allegations) as a challenge and extend its assistance in the investigations,” MQM’s Nasreen Jalil said.

She said the ISI must also act to clear its name in the matter of missing persons.

ANP’s Haji Adeel alleged that in the past the ISI had “trained terrorists to send to Afghanistan and Kashmir”.

Farhatullah Babar of the PPP said the judicial commission should investigate the allegations levelled by Mr Mir’s family. “This is an opportunity for the ISI to prove wrong all the allegations levelled against it.”

The MQM’s Tahir Mashhadi termed the attack on Mr Mir a failure of the Sindh government, intelligence agencies and police.

Hafiz Hammadullah of the JUI-F said the attack had taken place at a time when security was already on high alert as retired Gen Pervez Musharraf was also scheduled to arrive in the city merely hours later.

Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q said that since the ISI was an institution of the state, it should not be left ‘defenceless’.

“ISI and army-bashing must be stopped. Since ISI is part of the state’s defence infrastructure, it is the duty of the government to come to its defence,” he suggested.

The house adopted a unanimous resolution expressing “deep concern over the series of attacks on journalists” and urging the government to take steps to protect them.

At the beginning of the session, reporters covering Senate proceedings walked out from the Press Gallery to protest the attack.

However, they returned after both treasury and opposition leaders promised to form a Senate committee which would look into a possible legislation for the safety and protection of the rights of journalists.

Conspicuous by their non-participation in the debate were senators of the ruling PML-N. Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq deplored the attack, but did not speak on the allegations levelled against the ISI.

He also announced the names of five members who, he suggested, would constitute the house committee.

But due to reservations from other senators it was decided that the committee would be formed after consultations with all stakeholders and would consist of representatives of all major parties.

Comments (21) Closed

Safwan Apr 22, 2014 07:08am

ISI needs to understand that this aint the Pakistan of the 80's, 90's or 00's. The tax payers pay their bills, and now the tax payers want it to accept the civil supremacy once for all.

AW Apr 22, 2014 07:39am

If Senate needs to review or discuss matters pertaining to ISI, such activities must be conducted in confidential and classified meetings. It should never be a public affair. National security interests need to be protected at any and all cost. By discussing ISI and making references to certain events in an open session, certain Senators have behaved irresponsibly and in a reckless manner.

Amin Kalimuddin Apr 22, 2014 08:02am

ISI is the first line of defense, and army is the last line of defense for Pakistan. You people should be ashamed of yourself to bad mouth about those institution and those people. GEO TV including Hamid Meer is no friend of Pakistan.

Aftab Alam Khan Apr 22, 2014 10:10am

So the top intelligence agency ISI is at stake and its Chief to clear the allegations leveled against him by Mir's brother,aired by the ever fast media and then finally by Senate. A really very chaotic position. Is gher ko aag lug gayee gher k chiragh se.

raheel Apr 22, 2014 11:32am

this is true Orwellian double speak. charging the man who commanded troops in the battle with treason, and claiming the agency responsible for security as initator of attacks against its own citizens. this is symptomatic of the stage of mutual mistrust we have reached.

this is extremely disheartening for those who risk their lives daily on the now seemingly cliched idea of a 'nation' & 'pakistan' i am not talking who did what . or whose neck should swing . but there are THOUSANDS OF SOLDIERS who have nothing at stake in material incentives who risk their lives in line of duty because they still belive in the IDEA Of PAKISTAN

This saddens me and disturbs me and disheartens me ... and all my conviction seems naive or foolish at best when u see urself toiling for such a thankless bunch

a soldier

SM ZAKI Apr 22, 2014 12:06pm

Yes, this demand is genuine so ISI should extend its full cooperation into this probe. However, if ISI's role in the attack was not found than a stern action should be taken against those who tried to malign this prime institution of the country and caused irreparable loss to country. Justice should be done to avoid such future occurrences.

paki Apr 22, 2014 12:44pm

ISI's Flattery has started since accusations. Damn sure not a single person has genuine sympathies for the institution but its power and influence compels few media houses, anchors and parliamentarians to jump for this flattery.

M. Emad Apr 22, 2014 02:53pm

What a country !

qaisar Apr 22, 2014 04:01pm

Dear all; Mr Hamid Mir is a very well recognized journalist. If he made such accusations against ISI then he must understand the fall out if he is wrong. Knowing what ISI has done in the past i wouldnt be surprised if he is right.

ISI mentality needs to be revamped. We need to bring it under the civilian government.

We all must recognize that army has lost much of its credibility specially during the recent years....Specially the intelligence wing.

We as a nation have suffered tremendously due to the miscalculation by both our army and it's ISI...times have changed let's do it right. We must control our own destiny as a nation...and not by a few Generals whose salaries come from our taxes.

Feroz Apr 22, 2014 04:28pm

No country can allow any force to operate a State within a State, without any accountability. Is there any rule in the Constitution that says the accounts of the Military cannot be audited. What is so sacred or secret to prevent it, unless funds are being directed to fan the flames of terrorism.

Taimoor Khan Apr 22, 2014 04:51pm

What is with this name "Mir" that unfortunately , it has always been associated with the traitors. Mir Jaffar, Mir Sadiq. This individual Hamid Mir went to Bangladesh not long ago and spew venom against Pakistan in their media. How come the characters like him and the organization these people represent are allowed to operate in Pakistan is truly mind boggling.

khanm Apr 22, 2014 05:27pm

@AW: I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to Pakistan in the name of national security. probably it is already there...

khanm Apr 22, 2014 05:34pm

@Amin Kalimuddin: I do think the patriotic thing to do is to critique our country. How else do you make a country better but by pointing out its flaws? even if it happens to be ISI or military... they are merely the institutions in Pakistan... they are not the your counrty

khanm Apr 22, 2014 05:43pm

@Aftab Alam Khan: A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem. we are on cross roads..where to go no idea

Agha Ata Apr 22, 2014 06:06pm

The first thing an army officer is taught and is supposed to have is CHARACTER. A inhuman act of killing a journalist because he is telling truth is a very very bad spot on officers' character. I wish the killer (or killers) had the courage to come forward and say. Yes. I did it, and I was wrong. Do we have such an officer in ISI.

khanm Apr 22, 2014 06:11pm

@paki: When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour.

Khurshid Anwar Apr 22, 2014 06:21pm

Now the corrupt senators will be telling ISI what to do, they should clean up their acts before asking army for answers. Strange that Army has to satisfy Hamid Mir and his brother allegations, Pakistan media is corrupt they all belongs to different interest groups. They all collect commissions from different interest group. I am not saying they are not sincere to Pakistan, unfortunately they are the part of the dirty culture where success and respect is weight by the amount of money you have. Like it or not Army is the only institution in Pakistan that is disciplined, organized and mostly clean of corruption. There is no comparison between Pakistan Army with any other corrupt institutions. I do understand Army has made some mistakes in the past, but I do not see any corruption or personal gains made out of those mistakes. The mistake were made keeping Pakistan best interest in sight and the main reason for the mistake was Pakistan corrupt politician and corrupt system.

AJ Apr 22, 2014 06:38pm

Just because someone holds an institution responsible for whatever happens to them doesn't make the ISI guilty; a trend set by the late Bibi. Mr Hamid Mir is not above the State of Pakistan or its institutions. Accusations without proof is a favorite pastime of the politicians to malign the Armed forces, of course backed by the handsomely paid Media.

Least they forget it was never the politicians but a man in uniform who gave them an open corridor to freely express with a hope that over time, they would mature and set boundaries of unbiased reporting. Instead, they have become another tool for the highest bidder.

It would not be wrong for the rubber stamp parliament to pass a law that prosecutes an individual who hurls accusations without proof. I doubt they would ever do it ... its all part of playing politics!

AJ Apr 22, 2014 06:39pm

@paki: What makes you so sure?

andor Apr 22, 2014 07:34pm

ISI tries to bump off a renowned journalist, ... and guess what, they botch it up. And the common Pakistani prefers no probe on the ISI.

I wonder what is going through the rest of the journalists' minds. If they talk about truth, they will face music from the very own security services of the country. If they don't talk about truth, they will not be able to sleep well knowing they are not doing their jobs.

So this is what Pakistan has become. There are so many competing interests and competing arguments, among the people themselves, on why a no-strings-attached probe shouldn't be done. At the end of the day, it seems no body worries about the truth. What a bunch of people.

imran ali Apr 22, 2014 08:05pm

is it pakistan senate or Indian LOK SABAH.