Spy agency discredits own official

ISLAMABAD: The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that answering the queries posed by one of its officials would affect Pakistan’s relations with several countries and compromise the secrecy of the agency’s internal structures.

The bureau submitted its reply in response to a petition, filed by Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Shahzad, which accused senior IB officials of having links with different terrorist organisations from neighbouring and Central Asian countries, as well as protecting terrorists.

The petition was filed on Sept 22, and was transferred from Justice Aamer Farooq to Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who had sought a reply from the interior secretary after a preliminary hearing.

In his petition, ASI Shahzad claimed that he “reported against various terrorist groups having roots in Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and India… [but] no action was ever taken by IB in this respect, despite concrete evidence provided to it in the form of the intelligence reports”.

In its reply, IB claimed that the official seeking an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) probe against senior bureau officials was a habitual litigant and had tried to tarnish the repute of the intelligence agency in the past as well.

During the hearing, the judge observed that there seemed to be a tug of war between ISI and IB, and even posed the same question to Barrister Masroor Shah, the petitioner’s counsel.

Earlier, during the conduct of a probe against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, an interim report submitted to the apex court by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had hinted that military-led intelligence agencies were not on good terms with IB, and alleged that the bureau was hampering their investigation.

The JIT had included representatives of the ISI and Military Intelligence.

The IB response also regretted that information about the bureau’s secret targets and missions could not be disclosed, since it would become a public document if brought to court.

The agency also alleged that the petitioner had attached certain sensitive information with his petition, which was against service rules and the Official Secrets act.

The reply maintained that the petitioner was a habitual litigant and had implicated IB in nearly 14 cases in the past. It claimed that the petition was frivolous and was filed with mala fide intent, and should be dismissed.

Justice Siddiqui has already ordered local police to provide protection to the petitioner and his family after ASI Shahzad claimed that was being threatened. The court will resume hearing the case on Oct 9.

The issue has also reached the halls of parliament, where Senator Farahatullah Babar moved a calling attention notice urging the interior minister to take notice of the IB official’s allegations.

The calling attention notice pointed out that the head of the banned Jaish-i-Muhammad Maulana Masood Azhar and Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour Akhtar were facilitated by certain quarters.

Mr Babar also claimed that during NA-120 by-election in Lahore, a candidate backed by banned militant outfits was allowed to contest, in violation of the law.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2017

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