Pak govt’s shocker: ‘Lost control over Army, ISI’

Last Updated: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 18:15

Islamabad: Against the backdrop of tensions
between Pakistan`s civilian government and the powerful
military over the Memogate scandal, the Defence Ministry has
conceded that it has "no operational control" over the Army
and the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence.

The Defence Ministry stated its position in an affidavit
filed in the Supreme Court in connection with a case related
to the alleged memo that had sought American help to stave off
a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden
in May.

The one-page affidavit, filed in the apex court around
midnight on Wednesday, stated that the Defence Ministry had no
control over the army and the ISI, except in simple
administrative matters.

The ministry said it was thus not in a position to
confirm or deny the stand taken by the military and ISI in the
memo issue. The ministry further said it was not in a position
to submit any reply on behalf of the armed forces and the ISI
as their operations were not in its knowledge.

The stance taken by the ministry has heightened
apprehensions of friction between the civilian government and
the military over the Memogate scandal.

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen
Ahmed Shuja Pasha have urged the Supreme Court to conduct a
probe into the alleged memo, which they insist is a "reality".

The government has challenged the court’s jurisdiction to
hear the case, saying the scandal is already being
investigated by a parliamentary panel. It further asked the
court to dismiss a batch of petitions, including one filed by
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, seeking a probe into the alleged
memo. In separate affidavits submitted to the apex court
on Wednesday, the Army and ISI chiefs reiterated their request
for a probe.

Kayani again acknowledged the existence of the memo and
described it as an attempt to lower the morale of the armed
forces.

"There is nothing denying the fact that the memo exists
and it is also admitted to have been delivered and received by
the US authorities. Therefore, there may be a need to fully
examine the fact and circumstances leading to the conception
and issuance of the memo," Kayani said.

The apex court had sought sworn affidavits and rejoinders
from all parties in the case as it felt these were needed to
clear doubts created by the different stands taken by the
petitioners and the respondents.

President Asif Ali Zardari is the only one of 10
respondents in the case who has not filed a response in the
apex court. It is believed that the government will inform the
court that its response also represented the views of the
President.

Responding to lack of response from the President, the
Supreme Court had observed at the last hearing that
allegations not rebutted would always be considered correct.

"I am not aware of the status. However, it is a legal and
constitutional issue which will appropriately be addressed in
accordance with the law and the Constitution," presidential
spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the media when he was asked
whether the President would file a reply to the apex court.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who has called on the
government to resign in the wake of the scandal, said in his
rejoinder that the disclosures made about the memo by
Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz warrant a proper
judicial scrutiny and determination in the national interest.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 15:43

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