Bill seeks to streamline ISI affairs

A bill has been submitted in the Senate as part of efforts by Pakistan’s presidency to tame the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence through parliamentary oversight and to make it answerable to parliament and the government.

The 19-page draft bill was submitted in the Senate or upper house of parliament by Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, a few days ago and may be taken up soon.

Sources in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party told the Dawn newspaper that the important legislation had been discussed with partners in the federal coalition.

The proposed Inter-Services Intelligence Agency Act of 2012 suggests that the spy agency should be answerable to parliament and the prime minister. It recommends internal accountability within the agency and a better discipline system to end enforced disappearances and victimisation of political parties.

This is the first time that a serious effort is being made to streamline the affairs of the ISI, which faced criticism in the wake of the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory last year.

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