Pakistani businessmen decry ISI-bashing

Majyd Aziz

CIA, MOSSAD, MI-6, RAW, and of course, ISI. These are some of the well-known,
respected, and feared organizations, generally known as intelligence or secret
agencies, and are mandated by their respective governments or charters to
undertake designated activities that are crucial for national security and
national integrity of their motherland. Over the past many decades, other such
agencies have been in the news and most of them have been infamous, not only in
their own country, but throughout the world. Russia's KGB, Shah of Iran's SAVAK,
former East Germany's STASI, or the vicious gang of Haiti's 'Papa Doc' Duvalier,
officially known as MVSN, but contemptuously nicknamed by every Haitian as
Tonton Macoutes. Each and every country, and there are 196 countries in the
world, has some structured organization that could be termed as an intelligence

What has become synonymous with these secret intelligence organizations is their
portrayal in public as tough, conspiratorial, disregard for world protocols,
ruthless, knowledgeable, and in many cases, 'state within a state'. While
accusations and proofs do manifest such thinking, the fact is that for these
agencies, the primary objective is to protect and secure the nation from
external and even internal threats, intrigues, and more importantly attacks in
any manner and channel. Therefore, bashing the nation's intelligence apparatus
is in effect undermining the national security and national responsibility.

Over the last few years, a new thinking has developed in certain quarters and
this is assuming ominous proportions. Whispers became words, words became print,
print became online debates, and these debates resonated from small hamlets in
the interior of Pakistan to the capitals of the world. What should have been
nipped in the bud, or just gossiped in the parlors, was broadcast all over
through the global megaphone. Suddenly, an organization whose prime objective is
to ensure national security and to provide all possible intelligence reports and
position papers to the armed forces is being unnecessarily compromised and even
postings of the hierarchy have become subjects of pros and cons.

The impetus created by a civilian government to what it called bringing the
organization under the executive in its fullest sense triggered warning sirens
inside the portals of the well-secured enclave in Rawalpindi. A flurry of
actions was immediately conducted and the executive backed down, albeit with a
bitter taste in the mouth. Although the status quo was, and has been, maintained
and the juggernaut in Islamabad's Aabpara is functioning as before, the hard
fact is that a pretty solid dent has been created in its armor. The invulnerable
armor of the organization was further attacked in the back when a mischievous
but poignantly damaging clause in the much-publicized lollipop from Capitol Hill
called Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act desired that this organization be under true
civilian authority. Again, the defenders of the nation brought much needed
sanity and prevailed upon the residents of the two regal edifices in Margalla to
understand the ramifications of this clause as it would not promote democracy
but may unpleasantly damage the process of reconciliation and constitutional

Ever since these externally initiated dents, pointing fingers towards Aabpara
has become a favorite pastime for many who exert influence in this country. The
self-styled liberals have joined in as a chorus and further exacerbated the
situation without comprehending the sensitivity and insight of safeguarding the
national strategic assets. Ironically, taking due course to the immortal words
of President Harry Truman that "the buck stops here", the focus has been on the
decisions and actions of those who skippered the sensitive organization. The
background of these actions has been scrutinized with a bias while opaque
glasses are worn to justify the vehement opposition to what transpired behind
closed doors. The ensuing result may be the beginning of demoralization within
the cadre in this organization and may severely impact the effectiveness and
capability of a premier organization, an organization positively recognized as
an epitome of excellence within the global intelligence community. Yes, the
naysayers love to call it a rogue organization but, at the same time, it is
generally acclaimed for its skill, talent, and significance.

So, where does all this leads. From a businessman's point of view, the very fact
that sensitive organizations are made to come out from behind the curtains to be
paraded in an alfresco environment and asked to strip bare manifests a
threatening situation for the motherland. From day one when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
daringly announced that the denizens of this nation would eat grass but will
possess the nuclear bomb, there has been an anti-Pakistani dark cloud hovering
above in the skies. When the event finally took place at Chagai Hill in
Balochistan, the clouds became darker and menacing. The brilliant minds
overseeing the sensitive organizations ensured that the national strategic
assets were well protected and safe from the daily threats from foes and friends
alike. Today, the 185 million citizens are comfortable in the knowledge that
inspite of all odds, the assets and human resources are secure, dependable, and
ready for any eventuality. This is also reassuring for the business community
that is investing billions, earning foreign exchange, and providing meaningful

Therefore, the business community is of the solid opinion and are united in
requesting people who matter that this is not an 'us versus they' circumstance
but a matter of national interest that should not become a game scoring or an
ego trip. It is imperative that all those who wield authority must be on the
same page and must reflect this unified thinking in word and spirit. This is not
the time for manipulative maneuvers or polemical pursuits. This is not the time
for brinkmanship or gainsaying ventures. This is not the time for putting at
risk the ideology and sovereignty of the country. Pakistan is in a crisis,
economically, politically, and diplomatically. What should come first? Personal
agenda or national integrity? Protection of sensitive organizations, especially
ISI, and prosperity of the nation should prevail and recognized as prime
priorities. This is only possible when everyone truly adheres to the clarion
call, that for all Pakistanis it is always Pakistan First.

Yehi Jo Haal Raha Apni Behisi Ka Tau Phir

Khuda Bachai Jo Farda Meri Nigah Mein Hai Bassi

(The writer is Former President of

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry)


March 12, 2012

D/49, SITE, Karachi, 75700

Cell: + 92-300-826-1969



Tariq Khattak, Islamabad, Pakistan.
GSM = 0300-9599007 and 0333-9599007

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