ISI employees approach court against their chief

Four civilian employees of the spy agency ISI have approached the Islamabad High Court with complaints against its chief.

Last Updated: Mar 07, 2013, 14:01 PM IST

Islamabad: Four civilian employees of the spy agency ISI have approached the Islamabad High Court with complaints against its chief, Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam, in probably the first case of its kind in Pakistan`s history.

The employees claimed in their application that Islam and other senior government officers should be charged with contempt of court for not acting on a ruling of the Islamabad High Court on regularising employees.

The four men, all Grade-18 officers, claimed they had been working on contract as junior analysts in the ISI for the past seven years. They claimed their contractual appointment was limited to five years, after which they were to be made permanent employees.

Along with other federal government employees, the four officers approached the Islamabad High Court late last year.

On December 31, the court directed the government to "regularise the services of contract employees".

A Cabinet subcommittee supervised the process at various ministries and departments but the four ISI employees were not regularised.

They have now asked the High Court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Lt Gen Islam, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Asif Yasin Malik, Establishment Secretary Tamiur Azmat Usman and Khursheed Ahmed Shah, the chairman of the cabinet subcommittee on regularising contractual employees.

They claimed the respondents did not comply with the High Court`s December 31 ruling.

An unnamed ISI official told Dawn newspaper that contract appointments in the spy agency are different from those in other departments.

"Regular appointments can only be made after candidates complete competitive exams and undergo psychological and intelligence tests," he said.

The four petitioners, the official claimed, "cannot get permanent positions in the ISI without going through these steps".

Army-related litigation has increased manifold in the superior judiciary after the restoration of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2009.

Chaudhry and other top judges were deposed during the regime of former military ruler Pervez Msuharraf.

On a number of occasions, the Supreme Court summoned Army officials and issued directions to senior Army officials.

In November, the apex court decided on former Air Force chief Asghar Khan`s 16-year-old petition accusing the ISI of distributing millions of rupees among politicians to manipulate the general election of 1990.

The court directed that political and election cells in the ISI, Military Intelligence and presidency should be wound up.

Over 100 Army-related petitions are pending with the Rawalpindi bench of the Islamabad High Court and most of them are related to service matters.

Since the establishment of the Islamabad High Court in January 2011, over two dozen petitions have been filed in which ISI is one of the respondents.

These petitions were mainly filed by relatives of persons who were allegedly detained without charge by intelligence agencies.

In the past, Pakistani courts avoided hearing cases involving the military because Article 199(3) of the Constitution bars the judiciary from taking up matters related to the service of armed forces personnel.