By Brig Yasub Ali Dogar


The Mehran bank case is being tried in the Supreme Court and is being discussed and debated in media and public at all levels. All sorts of opinions are being voiced. Ever since the judiciary has become proactive under the leadership of the present chief justice Mr. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, lots of things which were considered normal and never discussed before are now being voiced in the open. The relevance of such actions in politics is being debated at various forums and opinions are being formed regarding the legitimacy of such actions.

Organizations like Mossad, RAW, CIA, KGB and ISI are meant to safeguard national security. All sort of methods, conventional, unconventional, orthodox or unorthodox are utilized to further the national interest. Israel has been eliminating enemies around the world from Eichmann to abortive attempt few months back in UAE using different countries passports. They cannot talk about or discuss about how, where and what they have done. These countries media respects these parameters and does not openly question their methodology.

In Pakistan the thin red line dividing national security from politics tends to merge. The traitors of yesteryears are today’s patriots and vice versa. There is a need to analyze what had been happening before this case and how much of it was due to perceived threats to national security and how much was due to political compulsions of the ruling class or the establishment.

Ever since the premature birth of Pakistan in Aug 1947 instead of June 1948 it had to survive on a life support system sometimes provided by outside powers otherwise patched up internally. The influx of refugees, non-recognition and raising of the Pushtoonistan issue by Afghanistan, the 1948 Kashmir war and accession problem of Kalat to Pakistan were major issues which confronted this premature birth. At the same time with an old exception immature political leaders/structure and civil / military bureaucrats serving at two to three places higher than normal further compounded the issues. To further add to the scenario political manipulations started off immediately after the death of the Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, the Governor Generals Ghulam Muhammad and Iskandar Mirza started playing a game of musical chairs in making and breaking governments to bring in results of their choice.

Reliance for aid and assistance on external sources led to interference by major foreign powers being relied upon, initially UK and later USA. Later even friendly Muslims countries came to play a major role in our internal affairs e.g. Saudi ambassador acting as a mediator between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto & PNA leadership in 1977 political crises after elections. Similarly the military's interaction through CENTO and SEATO led to its dependence primarily on USA and resultant interference in Pakistan internal affairs i.e Government of Pakistan siding with western nations during the Suez crises of 1956, whereas the public was over whelming for support of the Arabs; a pattern to be repeated right up to the present 'war on terror'.

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First Decade

Internally these manipulations started off right from the dismissal of Dr Khan's ministry in NWFP and Ayub Khuro in Sindh. As the state of Kalat had not accessed to Pakistan in 1947, Lasbela and Kharan which were subsidiary states of Kalat were given equal status and promptly acceded to Pakistan compelling Kalat to follow suit when an infantry battalion was also sent to Kalat. Ghulam Muhammad's nomination as Governor General, dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and dismissal of Kh Nazim udin's Government, all were done through an unseen hand.

Later Iskandar Mirza resorted to same tactics to achieve his ends. Creation of the Republican Party, musical chair of repeated change of governments from Muhammad Ali Bogra to Firoz Khan Noon was done through the process of influencing the members of the constituent and legislative assemblies through coercion or incentives like permits, licenses, plots, loans, quotas, development packages and even cash to the politicians to achieve the desired results.

Military Regimes

Ayub Khan followed suit by creation of Convention Muslim League in a similar manner and coaxing, seducing, enticing and forcing political leaders to join his political band wagon.

Similarly Gen Yahya followed suit by having a sham bye-elections on seats declared vacated after Awami League was declared illegal and banned. A large number of beneficiaries were Qayyum Muslim League nominees who were elected in these bye elections -1971; all done in ‘national interest’ with most political leaders onboard.

Most of the ground work during this period was done by IB and other organs of state rather than the ISI which was not utilized and would found its feet under a civilian head of the government later.

Bhutto Era

ZAB was confronted with NAP supported governments in NWFP & Baluchistan immediately after being sworn in. President Dawood Khan of Afghanistan was a strong supporter of Pushtoonistan. Both the provincial governments were dismissed and loyalties bought to ensure docile and submissive provincial governments, the Intelligence Agencies as an instrument of enforcing government. policies were widely utilized in all these ventures. The ISI found a political role for itself under a civilian head of the Government. who used an efficient organization to ensure that most political leaders remain inline as required by him. Gen Mirza Aslam Baig’s affidavit in the Supreme Court gives a short history of creation of the political cell. The reliance on the ISI increased due to it being an efficient and competent organization and also a feeling that any resources given would be well distributed. In 1975 the political cell was made responsible to the chief executive on all matters of national and political intelligence. After the establishment of higher defence organization in 1976, the ISI remained responsible to the chief executive however the administration control was with JS HQ / Min Def. The Pak Army exercised a defecto control by controlling postings, retirements and promotions etc.

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Zia’s Decade

The Zia period saw maturing of the political wing due to his increased dependence on an organization he was well versed with. Being a military regime its’ dependence on its own intelligence organization increased manifold. During the Zia regime the thin red line between national security and politics seemed to blend due to activities of PPP and AZO etc. being considered over lapping or inter dependent. The role and activities of the internal wing popularly known as the political cell increased in a big way. After the dismissal of Junejo Government, it is obvious that the new set up owed itself to behind the scene players.

The geo political situation in South Asia, inception of insurrection for Khalistan (Sikh homeland) and a brewing popularly led insurgency in Kashmir were other reasons for a surge in ISI’s role in domestic politics. All of these events were linked somewhere with Pakistan internal politics.

Brig Imtiaz Billa was the head of internal wing of the ISI looking after the political side during much this period later to become Nawaz Sharif’s IB Chief.

Post Zia Democracy

Creation of the IJI was one of the major acts under taken immediately 1988 after Gen Zia deaths. The fear of PPP under Benazir compelled all sorts of political actors to join hands under the banner of IJI. Wheeling and dealing was the hall mark of short lived BB Government. Both sides were believed to have widely used all resources at their disposal for the no confidence move against Benazir in 1989. She was also considered a security risk and was alleged to have helped Rajiv Gandhi in quelling his insurgency. After being dismissed on all sorts of accusations the people at helm of affairs ensured that she does not come back to power through dispersal of money to political leaders and the Mehran Bank scandal surfaced. In her second tenure Sabir Shah government was toppled and Aftab Sherpao became the new CM when some MPAs changed loyalties in favour of PPP.

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During Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure it was also alleged that the PM gave Rs.10 crore to JI through ISI.

It is interesting to note that whenever the PM selected a DG ISI of his own choice the choice miserably failed to deliver e.g. Lt Gens Kalue, on, Javid Nasir and Zia udin.

Mushrraf Era. He widely utilized all organs of state besides the intelligence agencies i.e. NAB, Anti-Corruption Deptt etc to coerce, seduce or force politicians to join him. He was much more successful than his predecessors as he was able to break PPP stalwarts like Faisal Saleh Hayat, Rao Sikandar Iqbal and Aftab Sherpao etc. who had withstood all types of pressure during the Zia regime to join him. Both coercion and incentives were liberally dispensed. Similarly after the abortive dismissal of superior judiciary and imposition of emergency, cash hand outs were given to lawyers group/bars but for once he failed to achieve his objectives to hijack the movement for restoration of judiciary. In-spite of his best efforts he was not able to get the election results of  his choice .

Post Musharraf

Zardari arrival on scene owed much to the sudden death of Benazir, like an astute politician he capitalize on the situation and emerged as the president of Pakistan. Soon after that a campaign to destabilise the Punjab Government started off while still being a coalition partner of PPP. All sorts of efforts were made to dislodge the PML Government including some still to come out in open. The Supreme Court is already hearing allegations about withdrawal of Rs. 260 million from IB funds.


The Pakistan Army in general and the ISI in particular has been focus of media and political bashing which has become a very common phenomenon these days. Outside influences seem to be working round the clock to ensure that these guardians of national security are compromised and their image tarnished in a way that public looses total confidence in their ability to guard national security and integrity. With the new great game being played all around Pakistan these agencies need to re-double their efforts to do so and the public should give full support in efforts to guard national interests.