Pakistan government has decided to bring both military and civilian intelligence agencies under one umbrella to be headed by the chief of ISI, in what is being seen as one more step towards increasing the military’s control over key institutions in the country.
After years of bickering over jurisdiction, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the setting up of the National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICC) on Monday, which will bring more than 20 spy agencies under the control of the Inter-Services Intelligence.
Most democratically elected prime ministers have relied more on the civilian run Intelligence Bureau, with the exception of the present PM.
Civilian governments have tried on more than one occasion to bring the military intelligence agencies under the purview of the PM or interior ministry. In 2008, the then Pakistan Peoples Party government even notified the placement of ISI and IB under the “administrative, financial, and operational control” of the interior ministry. But, the decision was reversed within 24 hours due to strong reservations from one of the organisations.
Similar efforts were made during the PML-N government, when Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan headed the interior ministry.
Local media reported that the move, which is believed to be the brainchild of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the head of the ISI, is part of the long-awaited reform of the intelligence apparatus, which aims at clarifying the role of respective agencies, improving their coordination, and optimising their capabilities.
Daily Dawn reported that one of the lessons learnt by the country during the fight against terrorism was that effective intel coordination was the weakest link in the entire effort. It importantly resulted in loss of critical time and in some cases, the agencies even could not piece together the information available to them. It was, moreover, a major hurdle to collective strategising.