Pak's spy agencies lock horns
With recent, rampant blames of political manipulation going out of the constitutional bounds on the country's civilian watchdog, Intelligence Bureau (IB), it has now become clear that Pakistan spy agencies have had a long habit of playing shadowy, in usurping enormous power and tremendous clout. Over decades, the role and scale of Pakistan's intelligence agencies have mutated beyond prescribed functions to major foreign and domestic policy areas, earning them the dubious sobriquet of a 'State within a State'. But now, the key agencies—the ISI, the MI and the IB – which had assumed more controversial, undercover roles, even with each other, have locked horns. During the height of civil-military tensions in 2014, the IB had been allegedly carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of the judiciary, opposition parties and even military intelligence agencies – under the instructions of the Nawaz Sharif-led government. It may be noted that the officials from the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had their phone calls intercepted and it was none other than the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, who ordered to keep surveillance on the phone calls of ISI officials. The fizzy rivalry between the IB and ISI boiled over in June this year when one Joint Investigation Team (JIT), probing alleged money laundering by the Sharif family, made a written complaint to the Supreme Court that the IB was wiretapping JIT members, including the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) sleuths. Other JIT members from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) had also charged the IB for bugging their phones. It is really alarming that if the well-oiled and super-efficient intelligence machinery of Pakistan are not safe in their own territory, how would their sleuths benefit their strategic geopolitical situation at the international level, particularly in the Indian sub-continent? And, when all the opposition parties, including Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Bilawal Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), are leaving no stone unturned to expose the 'nocturnal' activities of their own intelligence agencies against them, it would certainly be a treat for Pakistan's neighbours.