ISI closes its political wing

November 23, 2008


ISLAMABAD, Nov 22: In a move which may have far reaching effects on the country’s politics and democratic set-up, the premier intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has decided to disband its so-called ‘political wing’ that for the last over three decades had been actively involved in monitoring and managing political activities inside and outside the government.

A highly authoritative source told DawnNews that not only the ‘political wing’ was being disbanded, the officials working there have been given other assignments linked to the agency’s original role of counter-intelligence.

The source said with this decision taken at the highest level, the ISI would now be able to deal with more pressing issues like handling the crucial aspects of the war against terror.

Until recently, the so-called ‘political wing’ used to work under ISI’s Director General (C) which otherwise also deals with counter-intelligence activities.

With this decision taken at the top level, and implemented by the newly appointed ISI chief, the agency has dissociated itself from making or breaking of political parties and alliances.

“Following this decision, the ISI will be no more spying on politicians, and will play no role in manoeuvring or manipulating political activities in the country,” the source said. By now it had

become common knowledge that the so-called ‘political wing’, whose existences was otherwise never officially acknowledged, was manned by a brigadier, two colonels and a number of other junior military and civil officials, who would now be absorbed in other departments of the agency.

Although the ‘wing’ was associated with several controversial activities in the past, including the creation of an anti-Benazir Bhutto alliance in 1988, more recently it played a vital role in the 2002 general elections and helped the then president Pervez Musharraf in fulfilling his political objectives and formation of a coalition government with new factions of PML.

The source said the decision had been conveyed to the political leadership of the country and they had been told that the agency should not be approached for any political motive.