Afghanistan’s spy agency has been compelled to review a pact with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) because of growing opposition from Afghan lawmakers, who have warned they will push for the agreement to be invalidated if their conditions are not met.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Sunday the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ISI will be reviewed by a panel of experts who will report directly to President Ashraf Ghani.
The MoU has been widely opposed by lawmakers, who have raised the issue repeatedly in parliament in recent days, and reports have suggested the pact has led to differences between the President and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah.
A statement from the NDS said it will implement a five-step process to make the MoU with the ISI "practical" and to "legitimise it". This process will include a review by experts from the NDS, foreign ministry, Chief Executive’s Office and the National Security Council. This team will report directly to the President.
As part of the process, a meeting of the National Security Council will also discuss the agreemnt, and a consultative meeting will be held to create national consensus among political leaders, jihadi leaders and lawmakers.
President Ghani will also determine the "framework, scope and authority" of the agreement.
The NDS further said in the statement that it is committed to putting Afghanistan’s best interests first while finalising such pacts with foreign agencies, Tolo News reported.
There is a six-month deadline for making changes to the MoU, Tolo News quoted its sources as saying.
However, members of the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament warned they will move to invalidate the MoU if their conditions were not met. Among these conditions are the specification of the executive limits in the MoU and a clarification on all other issues.
Abdul Hai Akhundzada, deputy head of the parliamentary panel on national security, told reporters on Sunday that the House will invalidate the MoU if conditions set by MPs are not met.
The National Security Council and Presidential Palace should act carefully while signing such pacts and the Chief Executive Office, lawmakers and political and jihadi leaders must be consulted regarding the MoU, the MPs said.
"In case the MoU is signed, a general national gathering should be organised and must be attended by the House Representatives and the agreement should be only signed by the President once it is reviewed by the Lower House," the lawmakers said in a resolution.
Lawmakers have already summoned NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil to explain the contents of the MoU, which have not been made public so far.
The MoU reportedly commits the NDS and ISI to intelligence sharing and coordinated intelligence operations. Afghan officials have denied reports that the ISI will train NDS personnel under the pact.
CEO Abdullah Abdullah has called for amendments to the MoU. His deputy Mohammad Khan said Abdullah was aware of the pact in general but additional clauses had been added without his knowledge.
"According to my information, his Excellency Abdullah was consulted only on the draft agreement, but he remained completely unaware of some articles which were included in the agreement later on," Khan said.
India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval too has said the MoU is based on faulty assumptions.
"What Pakistan wanted was to get an assurance and put pressure on Afghanistan so that they will not allow their territory to be used for any security-related work by India. That is the crux of it. This is based on a faulty assumption that India probably uses Afghan soil or Afghan nationals for its security purposes," Doval told reporters in Delhi on Saturday.
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