May 26, 2009

PAKISTAN: SPY VS SPY

By B. Raman

In our preoccupation with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), we have not been paying the required attention to the goings-on in Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau (IB), which comes under the Ministry of the Interior. It is the counterpart of our IB and is of the same pedigree.
Even today, the IBs of the two countries maintain some of the traditions, nomenclatures for officers and subordinate units and methods of functioning which they had inherited from the British in 1947.

2. The founding fathers of independent India made the IB the first among equals in India's internal security and counter-intelligence set-up. It has retained and even strengthened that position. It continues to be an organisation largely staffed and led by police officers taken on deputation or permanent secondment from the Indian Police Service cadres of different States of the Indian Union, but the number of direct recruits has been increasing. The IB acts as the eyes and ears of the Government of India in all matters that could have a bearing on internal security. As the leading counter-intelligence agency of India, it plays the leadership role in countering the activities of the ISI in Indian territory and against Indian interests in India and abroad.

3. As against this primacy of the Indian IB and its significant role, the Pakistani IB saw over the years its role in the internal security management and in counter-intelligence gradually eroded, with the ISI assuming the responsibility for internal security tasks. The ISI assumed the leadership in internal security matters initially in the then East Pakistan because of the Army's suspicion of the loyalty of the Bengali police officers and then in Balochistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province for similar reasons. Whereas the police officers from different States in the Indian IB enjoyed the total confidence and trust of the Government of India, in the Pakistani IB, only the Punjabi police officers enjoyed some trust and confidence. The remaining police officers of non-Punjabi origin were looked upon with suspicion.

4. The marginalisation of the Pakistani IB by the ISI in matters relating to internal security was followed by the beginning of a process of militarisation of the IB----with the induction of serving and retired military officers into the IB. This process started under Zia-ul-Haq. When Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister in 1988, she sought to reverse the process. She appointed Maj-Gen. Shamshur Rehman Kallu, a retired officer who was close to her father, as the DG of the ISI much to the discomfort and unhappiness of the serving army officers. On her orders, Kallu also prepared a scheme for the re-organisation of the intelligence community. One of the key points in this scheme was the demilitarisation of the IB and restoring its police character and its role as the premier internal security agency of the country. Before the scheme could be implemented, she was dismissed by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August 1990.

5. Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded her as the Prime Minister after the ISI-rigged elections held later that year, carried out the wishes of the army and threw aside the scheme drawn up by Kallue. He once again started inducting retired and serving officers of the Army into the IB. When Benazir returned to power in 1993, she once again took up the scheme for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security management. She ordered a vast expansion of the strength of the IB, emulated the Indian model of having a directly-recruited civilian cadre in addition to the police officers and ordered the direct recruitment of a large number of civilian officers.

6. When Farooq Leghari, the then President, dismissed her in 1996, he stopped the expansion ordered by her and ordered that those recruited by her should not be given appointment in the IB. Those who had already joined were sacked. Nawaz Sharif, who returned as the Prime Minister after the elections, did not reverse the orders of Leghari and went along with the wishes of the Army to let the ISI retain its primacy in internal security and counter-intelligence matters. The militarisation of the IB picked up momentum under Pervez Musharraf and reached its nadir when he appointed Brig.Ijaz Shah, a highly controversial retired officer with strongly suspected links to the jihadi terrorist organisations, as the Director-General of the IB.

7. Since the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition Government came to office in March 2008, there have been indications that Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Pervez Musharraf as the President in September, 2008, wants to implement once again the ideas of Benazir for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security. He appointed Rehman Malik, a retired police officer, who had served under Benazir in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during her second tenure as the Prime Minister, as the Adviser for Internal Security with the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He now co-ordinates all internal security matters and the IB works under him.

8. Zardari also restored the practice of a senior police officer heading the IB and reportedly wanted that all those directly-recruited to the IB during Benazir's second tenure, but kept out by Leghari and Sharif should be re-appointed. Well-informed PPP sources say that Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, who does not feel comfortable with Rehman Malik and who has the backing of the ISI, has been dragging his feet in the implementation of the orders of Zardari to re-appoint all the direct recruits to the IB, who were sacked or kept out by Leghari or Sharif.

9. These sources say that the differences between Zardari and Malik on the one side and Gilani and the ISI on the other regarding the relative roles of the IB and the ISI are also coming in the way of a proper investigation into the role of the five detained activists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the conspiracy to carry out the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008. According to these sources, while Zardari and Malik are in favour of a more energetic investigation and prosecution to please the US, Gilani and the ISI have been opposing such an investigation.

10. Despite the difficulties faced by him in strengthening the IB and its role in internal security management, Zardari and Malik have been persisting with their efforts. Zardari gives a high-profile role to Malik in all matters relating to internal security. Malik and the Director-General of the IB accompany Zardari on his foreign tours. These sources say that Shoaib Suddle, the then Director-General of the IB, had accompanied Zardari on his recent visits to the US and West Europe and earlier to China. Zardari has also been encouraging the IB to set up its own network of liaison relationships with foreign intelligence agencies. Malik and the IB are being given a more active role in the counter-Taliban operations.

11. These sources say that the ISI, with the backing of Gilani, has not given up its efforts to oppose any leadership role for the IB in internal security matters. It is in this connection that one notes with interest the decision taken by Gilani on May 16, 2009, to appoint Javed Noor, the Inspector-General of Police of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, as the DG of the IB in replacement of Suddle, who was close to Zardari. Suddle, who belonged to the Sindh cadre of the Pakistani Police Service, was the DIG of Police of Karachi in September, 1996, when Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, who was challenging the role of Zardari in the PPP, was allegedly killed by the police following an altercation with them. Suddle is one of the accused in the case filed in this connection.

12. Despite this, Zardari had him appointed as the DG of the IB in June, 2008. He was given an extension of two years after he reached the age of superannuation. In April last, a judge of the Supreme Court set aside the extension given to him and other police officers facing trial in connection with the murder of Murtaza. Despite this, he was taken to the US and West Europe by Zardari along with the DG of the ISI. Shortly after his return from the tour, Gilani had him replaced as the DGIB on the ground that his continuing to hold this office had become untenable because of the Supreme Court judgement. It is not known whether Javed Noor is a nominee of Zardari or Gilani or the ISI. The removal shows that the ISI continues to be opposed to any attempt to give the IB the primacy in internal security matters.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

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