Demand for audit of expenses by intelligence agencies in Pak

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 15:46

Islamabad: Charging that the country`s
intelligence agencies were indulging in political maneuvering,
Pakistani lawmakers have demanded an audit of their secret
discretionary funds including expenses on covert operations.

The use of secret funds by the Intelligence Bureau came
up for sharp criticism during a meeting of the Public Accounts
Committee of the National Assembly held yesterday.
Members of the committee belonging to different political
parties said each and every penny spent by the intelligence
agencies, even on covert operations, should be accounted for.

The members used the occasion to criticise what was
described by them as "shadowy operations" of all intelligence
agencies under civilian or military control.

The PAC took "serious notice" of Rs 400 million availed
as a supplementary grant by the Intelligence Bureau in fiscal
2007-08 and asked its Director General to present the agency?s
financial records to audit officials.

Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who heads
the PAC, said people had seen the way agents of these agencies
had been working, including "harassing and torturing
journalists, interfering in politics and tapping telephones of
politicians".

Over the years, especially under military governments,
secret funds had increased manifold and it was time to put an
effective check on such spending, he said.
Otherwise the misuse of funds will continue unchecked, he
added.

Unfortunately, the working of the intelligence set-up of
the army was not enviable, Khan said.

Noting that intelligence agencies were involved in
political manoeuvring, he asked them to focus on national
security.

"Agencies are so good at making and breaking political
coalitions that within a jiffy they can make politicians, who
are enemies, sit at one table," Khan said.

Intelligence Bureau chief Javed Noor claimed during the
meeting that during the 16 months he had headed the agency, he
did everything "by the book and nobody could point out any
wrongdoing".

"We are working on professional lines. No harassment of
journalists, no tapping of telephones and no involvement in
politics," Noor was quoted as saying by the media during the
meeting.

He said his agency is willing to disclose its spending to
PAC but such a briefing should be held in-camera because the
details were of a sensitive nature and could not be made
public.

Khan was not impressed by Noor?s statement and said: "Mr
Noor, you should not have passed such a sweeping statement. I
know there are wheels within wheels and you may not even know
what your subordinates are up to".

PML-Q leader Riaz Pirzada said people were dying in every
nook and corner of the country every day and the intelligence
agencies "don?t want to share your expenditures with the
committee".

"It is the taxpayers? money and we want to know if you
spend it for our security or on protecting (US private
security contractor) Blackwater and its ilk in the country.

Most of the time, you people have failed in breaking
networks of terrorists," Pirzada said.

Pirzada said it was the people?s right to know how
intelligence agencies were spending their money.

Khan further emphasised that parliament is supreme and
all public departments, including security and intelligence
agencies, were answerable to the PAC on use of public money.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 15:46

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