In order to bridge the chasm between the spirit of the constitution and the practice as it stands of parliamentary oversight of the armed forces and intelligence budgets, a Senate committee has approved a draft bill on the role of intelligence agencies in Pakistan. The gist of the proposition by Farhatullah Babar, among others, was fairly simple: Hold the secret agencies functioning under the armed forces accountable to the Constitution of Pakistan. Most prominent in this bill is the role of Article 169 that underlines the functions and powers of the auditor general pertinent to monetary accounts within the Federation and the Provinces as well as any account of authority established by the Federation or a Province. The approval of the bill is perceived as a significant step towards re-evaluating the fundamental character of Pakistani agencies.

Addressing the apprehension of members wary of the bill, Farhatullah Babar reassured critics that the sentiment and demand were not designed to undermine the role of the intelligence agencies but to bring them under the rightful oversight of the parliament. Since 2005, intelligence agencies in the country have accrued a notorious reputation for involvement in enforced displacements and extra-judicial measures of a wide variety. By highlighting such violations, the bill supports the parliament to intervene in the form of a board that will review claims made by the agencies concerning suspected militants.

With a potential targeted operation on Karachi in order, the bill is aptly timed as the members of the committee demanded to seek a comprehensive reply from relevant authorities concerning the powers available to the Rangers in Sindh. In addition to this appeal, whether the alleged Rs 400 million funds utilized by the Intelligence Bureau were subject to audit under Article 169 was also inquired. Obscured from the scrutiny of verification, the case of financial endowment is a conflicted one, wherein the parliament has little to no knowledge of what goals are being chased, how and with whose authority. This display of deliberate apathy toward necessary check and balance has created a significant lack of trust in the role of the intelligence agencies.

Critics of the bill ought to understand the significance of the demands as they essentially play in favor of the security agencies; ie by reinstalling trust among civilians and keeping the forces answerable to the parliament and judiciary as the Constitution clearly states, the parliament and armed forces can unite to constructively work against terrorism. By assuming themselves beyond the realm of law and order, intelligence agencies only contribute to more national chaos.