Saturday, June 15, 2024

Pak’s Defence Min has no operational control over army, ISI


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Islamabad: Against the backdrop of tensions between Pakistan’s civilian government and the powerful military over the Memogate scandal, the Defence Ministry has conceded that it has “no operational control” over the army and the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence.

The Defence Ministry stated its position in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in connection with a case related to the alleged memo that had sought American help to stave off a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

The one-page affidavit, filed in the apex court around midnight yesterday, stated that the Defence Ministry had no control over the army and the ISI, except in simple administrative matters. The ministry said it was thus not in a position to confirm or deny the stand taken by the military and ISI in the memo issue.

The ministry further said it was not in a position to submit any reply on behalf of the armed forces and the ISI as their operations were not in its knowledge. The stance taken by the ministry has heightened apprehensions of friction between the civilian government and the military over the Memogate scandal. Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha have urged the Supreme Court to conduct a probe into the alleged memo, which they insist is a “reality”.

The government has challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case, saying the scandal is already being investigated by a parliamentary panel. It further asked the court to dismiss a batch of petitions, including one filed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, seeking a probe into the alleged memo.

In separate affidavits submitted to the apex court yesterday, the army and ISI chiefs reiterated their request for a probe. Kayani again acknowledged the existence of the memo and described it as an attempt to lower the morale of the armed forces.

“There is nothing denying the fact that the memo exists and it is also admitted to have been delivered and received by the US authorities. Therefore, there may be a need to fully examine the fact and circumstances leading to the conception and issuance of the memo,” Kayani said.

The apex court had sought sworn affidavits and rejoinders from all parties in the case as it felt these were needed to clear doubts created by the different stands taken by the petitioners and the respondents. President Asif Ali Zardari is the only one of 10 respondents in the case who has not filed a response in the apex court. It is believed that the government will inform the court that its response also represented the views of the President.

Responding to lack of response from the President, the Supreme Court had observed at the last hearing that allegations not rebutted would always be considered correct. “I am not aware of the status. However, it is a legal and constitutional issue which will appropriately be addressed in accordance with the law and the Constitution,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the media when he was asked whether the President would file a reply to the apex court.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who has called on the government to resign in the wake of the scandal, said in his rejoinder that the disclosures made about the memo by Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz warrant a proper judicial scrutiny and determination in the national interest. (PTI)


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