Not many have doubt about the 'sovereignty' of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). President General Pervez Musharraf did not have to underline it through his remark that it should not be destabilised. Those familiar with the governance in Pakistan know that the force is a parallel authority which has its own agenda and which has its own ways to put it into operation. People inside and outside Pakistan were happy when there was a notification that the ISI would be under the ministry of interior. Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), welcomed the step and pointed out that "no one will now be able to say that this agency is not under the elected government control." But he spoke too soon. Within 24 hours, another notification was issued to say that the earlier notification had been 'misunderstood' and that the ISI would "continue to function under the prime minister." In other words, the military will continue to control it through an Army Major General who heads it. A more detailed notification was promised. But it has not come out. Nor will it ever. It is apparent that the defence forces exerted the pressure and had another notification issued for "clarification". Director-General of the Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR) Maj-Gen Athar Abbas was blunt enough to say the army chief and other defence authorities had not been taken into confidence on the issue. This proves, if any more proof is needed, that the military continues to rule Pakistan even after the polls which gave the democratic forces a clear majority. Musharraf's argument that the ISI is Pakistan's "first line defence" is understandable. As the army chief, who staged a coup and ruled the country for more than eight years, is committed to the military's ascendancy. But why has Zardari who praised the interior ministry's control kept quiet is beyond me. He should know he cannot have any deal with the military if he wants people behind him. But most surprising is the silence of Nawaz Sharif, head of the Muslim League (N). On the one hand he demands the impeachment of Musharraf for his rule as a military dictator and on the other hand, he prefers to keep quiet when there is a small opening: handing over the charge of ISI to the ministry of interior. In fact, the Charter of Democracy which he signed with the late Benazir Bhutto at London two years ago goes much beyond and wants the army to return to the barracks. Nawaz cannot shrug his shoulders when the military puts pressure and gets back the control of ISI. Indeed, the nub of Pakistan's problems is the failure of the political parties to stand up to the army which has even spread itself in the fields of commerce, trade and real estate. The quantum is said to be as much as 70 percent. Pakistan has returned to democracy through an internationally - supervised polls. Political parties have not yet put their act together. Yet it does not mean that the old order where power rested with the military should continue. Musharraf belongs to the old mould. But he and his party, Muslim League(Q), were defeated at the polls. They want the military's control in some shape or the other. Therefore, Musharraf saying that ISI should be 'sovereign' fits into his way of thinking. The contradiction is that this train of thinking does not fit into the ethos of democracy. The writer is a former member of the Indian parliament and a senior political analyst E-mail: