Rejection of ISI report


A new turn was witnessed last week when the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a report prepared by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) about the Faizabad interchange sit-in and observed that even a journalist could provide more information than the premier spying agency did, while an antiterrorism court ordered the arrest of cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi on the complaint of a father whose child died while being shifted to hospital because roads remained blocked during the 20-day protest. Justice Qazi Faez Isa regretted saying “Now I fear for the country” while expressing dissatisfaction over the ISI’s 48-page report and also reminding that the agency, too, was accountable to taxpayers. Justice Isa was a member of the two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam that had taken up a suo motu case on the abusive language used during the Faizabad sit-in held by the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) as well as massive traffic congestion caused by it.
The ISI’s report on the Faizabad sit-in raises a number of issues. The Punjab government did not care to persuade the TLYR protesters to call off the move or to stop them from proceeding to Islamabad from several districts of Punjab. It soon became clear that the Punjab administration was unwilling to stick out its neck for what Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif considered a folly committed by a federal minister who should have been immediately fired to placate the protesters. The federal government which had been advised by the ISI to resolve the issue politically failed to hold talks with the TLYR. This was presumably because the administration was perpetually looking over its shoulder on account of recent events that included the Dawn leaks. Finally the clueless interior minister decided to launch an operation using the orders of the Islamabad High Court as a pretext.
As the ISI report puts it the operation was an utter failure. When protests erupted in support of the TLYR in other parts of the country also, the interior minister agreed to accept the offer of mediation by the ISI. With the PML-N’s Punjab administration not on the same page with its federal government, an irresolute prime minister running the affairs of the country and an assertive security administration in place, more anomalies of the sort cannot be ruled out. The ISI report indicates that it was dissatisfied with the performance of the Islamabad administration, the Special Branch and the IB. A Supreme Court bench hearing the Faizabad sit-in case has made somewhat similar assessment of the efficiency of the ISI which according to the apex court failed to provide answers to important questions about the working of the TLYR and the source of the funds at the disposal of its top leaders who ‘made an attempt to paralyse the state’.
Unless the government performs its job efficiently and the security agencies concentrate more on their professional duties than other things, highly damaging situations like the Faizabad sit-in causing loss of property and lives are bound to recur. When the Supreme Court inquired who represented the ISI in the case, no one turned up. The bench then went on to observe: “Whether Pakistan matters or not? Is it very easy to destroy properties worth billions of rupees?” The court also rejected the ‘classified information’ submitted by Intelligence Bureau (IB) Joint Director Anwar Ali. The bench said it was based on news reports and not a secret report that could not be filed through deputy attorney general. The SC dismissed the content of the report suggesting that the cleric (Khadim Hussain Rizvi) was “reportedly corrupt” and asked a counter question from deputy attorney general whether he was not concerned about the state of Pakistan. Infact, this is a very serious issue and should be dealt religiously.