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Intelligence Agencies Ought to be made Accountable before Parliament: PILDAT Roundtable Concludes

A Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Intelligence should be created for Oversight of Intelligence Agencies

PILDAT Roundtalbe Discussion
November 03, 2009

Summary: Making Intelligence Accountable [PDF]
Download Handbook - Urdu Translation [PDF]

Islamabad November 03: Chairs of Senate and National Assembly Parliamentary Committees on Defence, Members of Defence Committees, Parliamentarians, and Analysts present at the PILDAT Roundtable Discussion on Making Intelligence Accountable have demanded that Intelligence sector ought to be made accountable to Parliament and a Parliamentary sub-committee involving members from defence, interior and human rights committees, should be created for the oversight of the intelligence agencies.


Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuhu, Chairperson, National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence and Senator Lt. Gen (Retd.) Javed Ashraf Qazi, Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production presented the perspectives of Parliamentary Committees in Oversight of Intelligence Sector while Mr. Arnold Luethold, Head of the Africa and Middle East Division DCAF presented key lessons on oversight of intelligence.


A select group of eminent parliamentarians, members of the defence committees, subject specialists, media persons and analysts joined as discussants at the Roundtable Discussion.


The participants believed that Pakistan needs to start erecting a structure of law in which intelligence agencies operate. There is need for oversight and scrutiny. There is need for oversight in terms of human rights and mechanisms of information gathering within the country. There was general agreement that there is need for better inter-agency coordination between intelligence agencies. Parliamentarians demanded from PILDAT an on-going support forum for Parliamentary committees on the issue, especially on the broad role of committees in oversight of security sector. Specific technical and advisory support is required for committees such as defence, human rights and interior to carry out their oversight role effectively.


The roundtable formally launched the Urdu version of an international Publication “Making Intelligence Accountable: Legal Standards and Best Practices for Oversight of Intelligence Agencies.” The book is a translation from English edition of the handbook that is prepared and printed originally the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces-DCAF in collaboration with the Human Rights Centre, Department of Law, University of Durham & the Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee-OES.


Senator Lt. Gen (Retd.) Javed Ashraf Qazi, Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production believed that the handbook presents a good guide for Defence Committees in oversight of intelligence sector. He pointed out, however, that the book is written in the European context and therefore is rooted in internal security while Pakistan faces great challenges of external security. He also mentioned that the oversight role has to be played by Parliamentary Committees and there is no additional need for civil society oversight on intelligence as the handbook recommends.


The roundtable was organized by PILDAT, in association with DCAF, to share and disseminate best practices, knowledge and experiences on the role of parliamentary committees in oversight of the intelligence sector from established democracies.