By Senator Rehman Malik
Our law books either have old laws of colonial times or have no laws to deal with several critical national issues and hence we face various problems while dealing with significant matters. Mostly, we have to refer such matters to the Supreme Court for seeking guidance and interpretation and such impasses have always harmed the country. The nation has recently been witnessing tension on the appointment of Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) resulting in an unwarranted noise on social and mainstream media, both nationally and internationally and has become the talk of the town in the country. The law ministry failed to play its role and to issue a proper handout under the constitutional provision of Protection for the Armed forces, clarifying the situation to have sealed the unnecessary debates in the media and have halted the propaganda. I hope and pray that the issue gets resolved without any further delay and perhaps before this article appears in the newspaper.
It is important for the government to not follow the path of trouble and confrontation which may lead to stress, leading to give rise to controversial matters whereas the constitution gives full protection and immunity from any derogatory discussions to the judiciary and armed forces but it is not implemented in full letter and spirit. I am already on record as having exposed the huge funding from anti-Pak countries and the enemy to tarnish the image of the Pakistan Army in order to destabilise the country. I am worried about this alien interference to destabilise us. It is time for us to rise above politics irrespective of our political affiliations and to create national unity to play our role to steer Pakistan out of the present crisis.
The secondment of the ISI Chief and to other top brass posts i.e. the posts of Lt. General etc. is normal under the Army Act which is the sole discretion of the Army chief and similar postings by the other respective service chiefs.
According to Article 243 of the constitution of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces while the President by subject to law, has the power to raise and maintain the Military, Naval and Air Forces of Pakistan; and shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint-(a)the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee;(b)the Chief of the Army Staff;(c)the Chief of the Naval Staff; and(d)the Chief of the Air Staff, and shall also determine their salaries and allowances. The above article mentioned in the context of governing the fundamental bodies of our country, the constitution, clearly suggests that there is no mention of DG ISI’s appointment in this section as yet. It is neither amended in the Constitution nor the Army Act by the Federal Government/Parliament.
The ISI came into being after 1952 in the present shape when the Army Act was already promulgated hence, the ISI is not mentioned in the Army Act. According to Section 3 and 9 of the FIA act 1974, the Federal Government shall have the power to appoint the DG FIA as well as other officers of the agency by notification in the Official Gazette, and also to make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act and there is no set rule for the appointments yet as there is no act of ISI like FIA or IB. Having said that, the power to transfer or post an official in the ISI/Head of the ISI lies with the army chief since 1948 as he has the only authority to send any Lt General on secondment to ISI including other Lt General to other postings and the appointment of any Lt. General can be considered as a secondment to ISI.
All my suggestions may be taken in good faith and should be considered as advice from an elder senior political worker to revisit our acts and some parts of the constitution. This matter needs to be thrashed out legally and let there be an enactment as mutually proposed by GHQ, law ministry and defence ministry and other stakeholders. The appointment of DG ISI is like any secondment to any civil department ordered by the COAS like the secondment of MS to PM or other postings in the civilian setup.
The views expressed are solely mine and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: email@example.com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)