Misapprehensions of the ‘Minister’ about ISI
By Sajjad Shaukat
After a US drone attack which killed six students at a Madrassa (Religious seminary) in Hangu on November 21, this year, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) halted the NATO supply across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Afghanistan through sit-in protests and various rallies in order to denounce that these strikes are violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and are illegitimate acts of killing innocent people, while causing collateral damage to the property. Besides, on November 22, PTI-led government in the province also filed First Information Report (FIR) to nominate US and the CIA in connection with the deaths of innocent people in the Hangu-strikes. PTI also decided to register a FIR against CIA Director Johan Brennan and a man identified as the agency’s Station Chief in Islamabad.
Unfortunately, some leaders of the ruling party, PML (N) used the FIR issue as a plea to score political points against PTI. In this regard, while showing his misapprehensions, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah issued derogatory remarks against Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) by stating that ISI might have revealed the name of CIA Station Chief in Islamabad.
But when media reporters contacted the US Embassy in Islamabad, its spokesperson did not confirm the self-created statement of Rana Sanaullah. Even, PTI did not blame the ISI in this respect.
However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s statement about ISI is entirely irresponsible, offending and thoughtless. He has been opposing the legal protest of the PTI against the CIA-operated drone attacks. While showing contradictory remarks and his resentment against the PTI move, earlier, Rana Sanaullah said, “the whole nation mourns over the childish step taken by PTI to implicate CIA director who sits in Washington DC.” While, he, himself, indicated childish approach by linking ISI and CIA Station Chief in Islamabad in connection with the strikes of pilotless aircraft in Hangu. In his pro-American tilt, he also forgot to grasp ground realities by ignoring the facts that various segments of civil society, political and religious leaders, and the experts of international law have opined that these attacks by the spy planes are illegal, unethical and violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as well as the UN Charter. In this context, he also set aside the parliament resolution, the trip of Director General of ISI, Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam to America, various rallies and processions in Pakistan, while ignoring the recent report of Amnesty International and the decision of the All Parties Conference (APC) against the drone strikes.
Notably, key leaders of his own party, PML-N like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who did not link ISI and CIA, have strongly condemned the attacks by the US manless aircraft on Pakistan’s tribal areas. But surprisingly, Rana Sanullah’s statement against the superior spy agency, ISI has exposed his ill-conceived thoughts which need special analysis, so that general masses must know the real face of this politician who is still serving as the law minister in the Punjab province.
It is of particular attention that some politicians have already pointed out that Punjab Law Minister has connections with the banned extremist outfits. Regarding general elections 2013, while commenting on a statement by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat that the PML-N had approached him for seat-adjustment, a PTI spokesman had disclosed on February 25, this year, “PML-N government in Punjab has links with the militant groups, requesting the Taliban of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) not to target them because the PML-N and Taliban had the same ideology.” The spokesman elaborated, “People remembered how the Punjab law minister had accompanied leaders of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and attended its rallies.” However, TTP did not target the leaders of the PML-N during the election-campaign.
In 2010, a large number of civil society activists staged a rally from Sindh University’s old campus to the press club to condemn terror attacks on worship places of Ahmadis in Lahore. They raised slogans against Taliban and urged the Punjab government to dissociate itself from banned outfits and remove its irresponsible minister Rana Sanaullah who has given shelter to the country’s most violent Islamist militant groups.
It is notable that on March 3, 2013, the deadly twin blasts killed more than 50 people in the Shia-dominated Abbas Town of Karachi, and on February 17, same year, the deadly suicide attack killed more than 100 persons of the Hazara Shias in Quetta at Kirani Road. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for these terrorist acts.
Regarding these two major terror-attacks, the former Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in the National Assembly on March 5 that four activists of the LeJ, involved in Karachi’s Abbas Town bomb blasts have been arrested, and assured the Assembly that he would present a fact sheet that apart from the TPP, some other outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were also involved in recent terrorist activities, while LeJ is openly holding its meetings in Punjab. Earlier, he revealed that Punjabi Taliban of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which had its headquarters in Punjab were behind the terror attacks in Karachi’s Abbas Town and Quetta’s Alamdar Road and Kirani Road. He explained that the Punjab government’s ruling party, the PML-N was in an electoral alliance with the banned organisation. Therefore it had taken no action against the militant group. Former Governor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barrister Masood Kausar expressed similar thoughts on March 5.
Besides, in its report, submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on February 20, 2013, ISI stated that the agency had already shared information with the civil administration about procurement of explosives by terrorists from Lahore to Quetta and possibility of fresh terror attacks on Hazara community.
It is worth-mentioning that in the 2010, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer (The Late) had also disclosed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had links with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Therefore, he was not taking effective measures against these banned outfits to curb extremism and sectarianism.
At this critical juncture when foreign elements like the CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have accelerated their conspiracy against the integrity of Pakistan in order to complete their hidden agenda, the media of the US, India and some western countries have also intensified anti-Pakistan propaganda, especially targeting ISI. But, it is regrettable that without taking cognizance of the ground realties, and without knowing the functions of the ISI, some political leaders, media anchors and so-called human rights groups of our country have developed misperceptions about this agency. And since the Supreme Court of Pakistan has been dealing with various cases like the memogate scandal, mehrangate scandal and that of missing persons, our internal entities have continuously been maligning ISI.
In these terms, while speaking in the tone of external enemies, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has followed stereotypes about ISI, which are likely to misguide the general masses. Instead of manipulating the country’s key spy agency, he must better know its functions, performance and role regarding protection of country’s the national interests.
Rana Sanaullah should know the ISI services such as capture of renowned Taliban commanders, castigation of pre-terror attacks, sacrifices of ISI personnel, suicide attacks on agency’s premises in various cities of the country, blockage of the activities of Blackwater including CIA agents and submission of pre-information about terror assaults.
In the recent past, very differences started between Pakistan and America as ISI interrupted covet activities of the so-called diplomats. In this regard, on the information of this top spy agency, Pakistan’s establishment expelled several American spies operating in the country in the guise of diplomats. On the other side, US withheld $800 million in military aid to punish this agency ISI.
ISI has always preferred the external and internal security of Pakistan. Externally, through its invisible mechanism, it thwarted the anti-Pakistan plot of the US, India and Israel—also against China and became an obstacle in the secret strategic designs of these hostile elements.
Nonetheless, if PTI is creating some kind of pressure on US to stop drone attacks in Pakistani territory, then it should not be made controversial by Rana Sanaullah by damaging the very reputation and esteem of ISI. Pakistan’s media must condemn Rana Sanaullah for accusing ISI without any proof due to his misapprehensions about this spy agency which has been severing as the first defence line of the country in safeguarding country’s national interests, particularly in wake of the war against terrorism.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations