Afghan Parliament cries foul; demands review of ISI-NDS pact
Afghan parliamentarians on Saturday demanded a review of a controversial pact signed by Pakistan and Afghanistan for cooperation between their spy agencies amid growing opposition in political circles to the memorandum of understanding.
The lawmakers raised the issue in the House of Representatives and said the memorandum of understanding (Mo) between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) should be made public.
The parliamentarians said the MoU’s contents need to be reviewed. They further said the House of Representatives has the right to demand an explanation regarding the pact, Khaama Press agency reported.
The inking of the agreement was confirmed by Pakistan’s chief military spokesman major general Asim Bajwa on Twitter on May 18 only after Afghan MPs opposed the move in the Wolesi Jirga or the lower house of parliament.
Bajwa said the MoU covers intelligence sharing, complimentary and coordinated intelligence operations on both sides but numerous reports suggested it will allow ISI to train and equip NDS personnel. The reports further suggested Afghan intelligence and the ISI will jointly interrogate detained suspects.
A government source told Radio Azadi that President Ashraf Ghani decided, after a meeting with political leaders, to remove “disputed material” from the MoU.
The source said provisions related to training of Afghan personnel by the ISI, joint operations and opening of offices by the ISI and NDS in Kabul and Islamabad respectively will be dropped from the MoU.
Qazi Amin Waqad, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, was quoted by Radio Azadi as saying that several leaders were opposed to the MoU labelling the Taliban as a “separatist movement”.
The Afghan President’s office and the NDS have defended the agreement, saying it was in line with the country’s national interests. The President’s spokesman Ajmal Abedi said similar agreements had been signed with Pakistan in the past.
But officials of the previous government headed by Hamid Karzai said no such pacts were signed with Pakistan in the past.
The MoU has also led to differences between President Ghani and chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah, who reached a power-sharing arrangement to form a national unity government.
Radio Liberty quoted an Afghan government official as saying that Abdullah considered the MoU "unacceptable" and had made his opposition known to Ghani and senior security officials.
Ghani and Abdullah camps held discussions on how to change the MoU during a meeting of the National Security Council on May 21.
Abdullah was angered at the “lack of transparency” in the MoU. He was also not aware that such an agreement had been signed, the government official said.
Abdullah's first vice president, Mohammad Khan, has said that Abdullah was "consulted only on the draft agreement, but he remained completely unaware of some articles which were included in the agreement later on".
Former NDS chief Amrullah Saleh too has expressed concern at the agreement. He said in a tweet: “Intelligence cooperation with ISI means doubting Pak duplicity in terror, dishonoring ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) sacrifices & falling in the trap of deception.”
The ISI has for long been accused by the US, Afghan and Indian officials of meddling in Afghanistan and of having close ties with the Haqqani Network, a Pakistan-based terror group blamed for some of the most brazen attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.