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Pak army will hold on to India policy

world Updated: May 18, 2011 00:10 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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Pakistan's military has gone on the offensive in a bid to retain its control over the country's intelligence gathering apparatus and over foreign policy following the American raid in Abbottabad.

General Kayani told a select group of journalists at a briefing in Rawalpindi this week that the army had no intention of giving up either control of the intelligence agencies or the country's foreign policy, especially with regards to India, the US and Afghanistan.

But Pakistan's civilian politicians say they are not willing to let the generals off the hook so easily. "There must be a paradigm shift. The control of the intelligence agencies must be in the hands of the elected government and not any other power," opposition politician Mian Nawaz Sharif said in a gathering at Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Following the American raid, local politicians are incensed over the fact that they have to share the blame over a supposed intelligence failure that led to bin Laden living in an Abbottabad suburb for over five years and the failure of Pakistan's defence forces to detect the entry of American helicopters into Pakistani territory.

Earlier this week, politicians booed the ISI chief, General Shuja Pasha, who appeared before the parliament for an in-camera briefing on the Abbottabad incident. Sharif and others have called for a judicial commission to investigate the intelligence failure. "We want judges not Generals investigating the matter," he said.

Kayani, in his briefing, said that the army needs to consider its option and that there needs to be more balance between foreign policy and public opinion. This translates into a less pro-US policy, he said but added that the country could not afford bad relations with the US.

It may be significant to note that Senator Kerry first met Kayani in his recent visit to Pakistan before meeting the PM and President. In his briefing Kayani said that the nature of relations will change with the US, but the cooperation would remain. He once again blamed the political government for allowing hundreds of US personnel into the country without proper verification.

As Kayani spoke, small groups of men and women appeared in streets of cities all over Pakistan with pro-military banners. They chanted slogans in favour of the army and the generals. This has not gone down well with either the government or the opposition. It is possible, say analysts, that the parliament in its session will move to clip the military's unquestioned powers. "This is the real battle for Pakistan and we are all waiting for it to happen," said one analyst.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir said that it is sad that in a country like Pakistan, no one knows who the intelligence agencies are reporting to. "This has to change," she commented.