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Closure of ISI's political wing: 'It is impossible'

April 02, 2012 17:18 IST

Pakistan's powerful spy agency Inter Services Intelligence's new chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam has reportedly closed its scandal-hit political wing temporarily, but leading political parties are doubting the move.

"I have read about the ISI chief's statement in the media but I don't think the intelligence agency has stopped monitoring the activities of our politicians," a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, who did not want to be named, said.

The leader said a woman colleague, who is a member of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament, had told him that her mobile phone was being bugged by the intelligence agency.

"People may talk of the ISI's political wing being closed but practically it is impossible," the leader said, referring to reports that Gen Zahir had ordered a "temporary closure" of the intelligence agency's political wing.

PML-N spokesman Mushahidullah Khan, a member of the Senate or upper house of parliament, said: "We welcome the statement of the new ISI Director General announcing the abolition of its political wing. However, we hope that it will not turn out to be a mere statement."

Khan was very critical of former ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who retired last month, for promoting cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf. "Gen Pasha had weakened the PML-N," he said.

Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is leader of opposition in the National Assembly, recently said that Imran Khan's party had been "orphaned" after the retirement of Pasha.

"In the current scenario where politicians, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, are involved in massive corruption, how can intelligence operatives shut their eyes to their suspicious activities," a Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader sought to know.

He added that though the active interference of intelligence operatives in political affairs might be reduced, their monitoring of politicians would continue.

Last month, former Mehran Bank chief Yunus Habib, had told Pakistan's Supreme Court that he had in 1990 provided the military Rs 1.48 billion, from which funds were distributed to politicians like Nawaz Sharif who were then part of the army-backed Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.

The bench was hearing a petition against the funding of politicians by the ISI.

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