Pakistan’s ISI given legal cover to screen government officials

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The Dawn news report said that in doing so, “the government has given legal cover to a practice that had already been in place, but had not been formalised as part of protocol”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has officially tasked the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to screen government officials before their induction, appointments and postings, as well as promotions, a media report said.

The Dawn news report said that in doing so, “the government has given legal cover to a practice that had already been in place, but had not been formalised as part of protocol”.

In a notification, the Establishment Division said: “In exercise of powers conferred by sub-section 1 of section 25 of the Civil Servants Act 1973, read with notification No. SRO 120 (1)/1998, the Prime Minister is pleased to notify Directorate General Inter-Services Intel�ligence (ISI) asSpecial Vetting Agency (SVA) for verification and screening of all Public Office Holders (Officers Category).”

An Establishment Division official told Dawn news that the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) both send their reports about civil servants before the latter are posted on important assignments.

Reports are especially sent to the Central Selection Board (CSB) at the time of promotion of bureaucrats.

The practice has continued even though superior courts had, in a few cases in the past, discarded such intelligence reports while noting that there was no legal provision in the Civil Servants Act that mandated agency screening of civil servants.

Nadeem Anjum, Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan

The official told Dawn news that notwithstanding the notification, the IB will continue to send its reports as per routine.

The official said that since the government has now given legal effect to reports issued by the ISI, these could henceforth be used in courts as a valid legal document.

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