Why not a civilian head of ISI?: Dawn

Why not a civilian head of ISI?
By Kamran Shafi , Dawn, 17 Nov, 2009
IN view of the fact that the cardinal sin of the federal government to try and put the ISI under civilian control is cited as a reason behind all the obituaries presently being written about the imminent fall of a) just the president; b) all the major politicians; and c) the whole shoot, I’ve been trolling through the Internet to see how just many of the world’s top intelligence services are headed by serving military (in Pakistan’s case, read ‘army’) officers.

And how many are appointed by the army chief. Consider what I’ve come up with.

Except for two retired army officers in the early days, one a lieutenant colonel the other a major general, all the DGs of MI5, the “United Kingdom’s internal counter-intelligence and security agency were civil servants. The director-general reports to the home secretary, although the Security Service is not formally part of the home office”, and through him to the prime minister.

“The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), colloquially known as MI6 is the United Kingdom’s external intelligence agency. Under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), it works alongside the Security Service (MI5), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the defence intelligence staff (DIS).” Except for one naval captain, an admiral, a lieutenant colonel and a major general in the very early days, all of them retired, every single chief of this agency has been a ‘bloody civilian’, some from within its own ranks, others from the civil service. The present director is Britain’s former ambassador to the United Nations. The director reports to the chief cabinet secretary and through him to the prime minister.

Directors of Mossad, the dreaded Israeli intelligence agency which seems to be running rings (if reports in our conservative press and on our fire-breathing TV channels are to be believed) around our very own Mother of All Agencies, has been headed mostly by retired military officials (remember please that military service is compulsory in Israel) but also by ‘bloody civilians’. Mossad’s director is appointed by the prime minister and reports directly to him.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency reports to the director of national intelligence (DNI), who in turn reports to the White House. The director is appointed by the president after recommendation from the DNI, and must be confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate. While there is no statutory provision which specifically excludes active military personnel from being nominated for the position, most directors have been civilians.

Barring Gen Reinhard Gehlen who set up the German intelligence agency Abteilung Fremde Heere Ost to principally keep an eye on the Russian easternfront during the Second World War, the present federal intelligence service, Bundesnachrichtendienst(BND), has always been headed by civilian public officials, notably by civil servant, lawyer and politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party, Klaus Kinkel who rose to be Germany’s federal minister of justice (1991–1992), foreign minister (1992–1998) and vice chancellor of Germany (1993–1998).

Next door in India all directors of RAW have been civilians, either civil servants or policemen or officials from within its own ranks. While the director RAW, also known as ‘Secretary (R)’, is under the direct command of the prime minister, he reports on an administrative basis to the cabinet secretary. However, on a daily basis ‘Secretary (R)’ reports to the national security adviser to the prime minister.

For complete article, click here

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