INTERIOR Minister Rehman Malik's observation that the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau have no political wings, is welcome. Talking to a private television channel on Tuesday, he also claimed that the intelligence agencies neither indulged in political eavesdropping, nor were they secretly recording phone conversations of the country's political leadership. This must have come as a revelation to those who saw the intelligence agencies spend the last nine years of the military rule coercing political opponents into changing loyalties, with those who agreed to switch over to the government rewarded with lucrative positions in the power set-up. The National Accountability Bureau, which was supposed to nab the corrupt and make them cough up the national wealth they had plundered so mercilessly, was busy giving a clean chit to pliant politicians. There were instances in which people emerged from the police lock-ups to take over important portfolios in the federal and provincial cabinets. On the contrary, those who refused to follow the dictates were implicated in false cases and sentenced to prolonged periods in jail. There had been no letup in political witch-hunt in the country during the most oppressive military rule of Musharraf. But what was more disturbing was the role the Military Intelligence had been playing in Balochistan. There were reports of the people being kidnapped and handed over to Americans for interrogation at Guantanamo Bay. The Baloch were being punished for raising a voice for the protection of their rights and resources. Blasting of gas pipelines and attacks on vital installations cannot be condoned, but it all came as a reaction against unabated repression that led to the cold-blooded murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti. If the government has abolished the political wings of the ISI and the MI, it is good news. The democratic dispensation must revamp the military and civilian intelligence apparatus to make it effectively perform its duty to safeguard the country against internal and external threats