The latest blunder, and a fairly serious one this time, by those who matter in the PPP and the government was to put the ISI under the purview of the interior ministry headed by the co-chairman's trusted lieutenant Rehman Malik. This was yet another example of political inaptitude combined with abysmal ignorance of how the administration works. It has raised alarm in the establishment and created questions about the motives behind the thoughtless move. The subsequent withdrawal of the notification has made the government headed by Mr Gilani a laughing stock. Any independent public opinion survey would bring out the fact that ISI is the most unpopular agency in the country and that precisely for one reason: gross and unending interference on its part in national politics. There are so many outstanding examples of its unwelcome dabbling in politics that people were only amused by the ISPR chief's statement regarding there being no political cell in the agency. In 1988 the ISI created the IJI to counterbalance the PPP, subsequently financed its political opponents, helped widen the gulf between the two mainstream parties, brought the PML-Q into existence, and after 2002 elections indulged in full scale covert operation to deprive the PPP from forming a government in Sindh. Its hobnobbing with communal and terrorist groups, and frequent claims by government leaders, past and present, that "hidden hands" had stood in the way of their efforts to put them on leash have further added to people's concerns. The ISI's political role has eclipsed the vital role it plays as a professional agency of the state to help maintain its defence preparedness. It is therefore in the agency's own benefit to bar it from tinkering in politics. What is also required is a proper pooling of intelligence resources at the highest level and a satisfactory civilian control over it. This however requires a well thought out plan that needs to be discussed among the coalition partners, brought for debate before the parliament, where the government is not willing to take vital issues, leading to the formulation of a charter, defining precisely the ISI's sphere of activities along with a civilian mechanism of oversight. For this the army and the ISI establishment too have to be taken into confidence. It is highly irresponsible to think that the powerful behemoth can be transferred at will from one ministry to another like the CDA. The move reveals a conspiratorial bent of mind which will not help the government. An earlier example of the sort was the advice to the Election Commission to postpone the by-elections that had led to widespread condemnation by the coalition partners and demands were made to conduct an inquiry regarding who was responsible for this. The matter was however hushed up. The order to transfer the administrative, financial and operational control of the ISI to the interior ministry was issued in the name of Prime Minister Gilani who had told the editors of newspapers a couple of days earlier that he was in full control of the administration and the system under him was working quite satisfactorily. The statement was meant to convey to the US administration that he was no dummy prime minister. The way the order was issued and retracted within hours under pressure from the establishment must have caused embarrassment to the prime minister. The murky way decisions are being taken under the present administration can only breed distrust. A perception is being formed that the government is being run by Co-Chairman Zardari with the help of certain unelected advisors. A clique takes all vital decisions without caring to take the cabinet, parliament or coalition partners into confidence. The decision to postpone the by-elections, hand over FATA to the army and shift the ISI's control from the prime minister to the interior ministry were all taken by a handful of persons. Sherry Rahman thinks the government enjoys the mandate of the people and does not need to take issues of the sort to the parliament. She forgets that the coalition government is the outcome of a divided mandate and the PPP leaders alone have no authority to take vital decisions without consulting their partners or taking the issues to the parliament.