South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The Senate has recommended an effective role of Parliament in monitoring the spy agency while giving it power to arrest and detain

In a bid to bring Pakistan’s powerful ISI under civilian control, the Senate has recommended an effective role of Parliament in monitoring it while giving the spy agency power to arrest and detain.

A report unanimously adopted by the Standing Committee on Human Rights was presented in the house last Wednesday and was endorsed by the Senate. The Committee had taken note of enforced disappearances a year ago and had formed a sub-committee to look into it.

“In the light of the situation, we had recommended half a dozen steps. The main one being that the security agencies should be given the power to arrest and detain and at the same time they be put under parliamentary oversight,” PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, convener of the three-member committee which prepared the report, told PTI.

He added, “Currently when the agencies pick up men, they do not know what to do. The report was accepted by the 15 member Standing Committee on Human Rights after modifications and was placed in Senate on Wednesday. It was endorsed by the Senate.”

According to the policy, the government within about 60 days will have to take steps to implement the recommendations with or without modifications.

Giving further details, the Dawn daily reported the recommendations call for setting up a bicameral intelligence and security committee to suggest ways of addressing the issue of enforced disappearance of citizens.

The report is a follow-up of resolutions unanimously endorsed by the Senate on March 7 and National Assembly on March 12 last year on the issue of enforced disappearances.

A parliamentary oversight of the ISI will be possible if the committee’s recommendations are included in a proposed Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (Functions, Powers and Regulation) Bill. These recommendations need approval of the parliament.

Although on paper the ISI operates under the administrative control of the prime minister, civilian governments have in the past struggled to bring the agency under their control, but without success.

Source: Business Standard – 5.11.2013 –