It is not news that the ISI is out of control and unaccountable within Pakistan. But here is an account of how it has been allowed to happen. “An ISI coup in the Pakistan military,” by Najam Sethi for the Daily Mail, March 17:
The army was constitutionally mandated to be an arm of the Pakistan state. All the organs of the state, in turn, were supposed to be subservient to the executive of the day.
In time to come, however, the army through the office of the COAS seized the commanding heights of the state, amended the constitution and subordinated other institutions to its own ends.
Thus, even when elected civilians were nominally in office, the COAS ruled the roost in all critical areas of domestic and foreign policy.
But something even more sinister has been transforming the civil-military landscape in recent decades.
This is the creeping consolidation of the ISI through its DG from an arms-length intelligence directorate (Interservices Intelligence Directorate) in the first three decades of independent Pakistan to its metamorphosis in the last three decades as an unaccountable and all-powerful ‘deep state within the state’ that now controls both military strategy and civilian national security policy.
The unprecedented appointment of a serving DG-ISI as COAS (General Ashfaq Kayani) by President Pervez Musharraf was the first step in this direction.
The second was Kayani’s own decision to routinely rotate senior serving ISI officers to positions of control in the army and vice-versa, coupled with his insistence on handpicking the appointment or extension in service of the DG-ISI.
Together, they reflect a cold new reality. The ISI has walked into GHQ and seized control of the military. This is a deeply troubling development because it violates the established order of all militaries in democratic societies that have consciously striven to keep intelligence services at arms length from GHQ because of concerns that soldiers and commanders in the field should not get contaminated by cloak and dagger spooks in unmarked cars and buildings.
That is why Gen Zia kicked DG-ISI Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman upstairs to Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in 1977 instead of giving him command of soldiers on the ground. That is why COAS Gen Asif Nawaz reluctantly brought back DGISI Gen Asad Durrani to GHQ in 1992 and sidelined him there in Training and Evaluation Dept, and that is why COAS Gen Abdul Waheed first prematurely retired Gen Durrani from service in 1994 and recommended Chief of Staff Gen Jehangir Karamat as his COAS successor rather than DG-ISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi.
That is why the CIA, R&AW, MI6, KGB, MOSSAD etc remain civilian Intel agencies under full civilian control even though soldiers may be seconded to them or head them occasionally. THE ISI’s meteoric rise dates back to the 1980s when it was mandated by General Zia to be the official but secret conduit for tens of billions of dollars of arms and funds from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to be used by the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. […]
The ISI’s silent coup against GHQ is problematic. For starters, it has eroded the credibility and capacity of both the DGISI and COAS. ISI’s spectacular failures (Benazir’s assassination, Mumbai, Raymond Davis case, missing persons, Memogate, Mehrangate, Abbottabad, Get- Zardari, Saleem Shehzad case) are all GHQ’s failures simultaneously no less than GHQ’s loss of over 3000 soldiers to the Pakistani Taliban and the terrorist attacks on GHQ and Mehran Navy Base on account of the ISI’s failure to formulate a proper strategy to pursue the war against terrorism by distinguishing between friends and foes, allies and liabilities….