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Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan: Eyes and ears of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
While infamous Inter-services of Pakistan (ISI) was formed in 1948 basically to strengthen military intelligence of Pakistan, but, later on it became a notorious tool of Pakistan army to meddle in national and international affairs. It is being controlled by Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan, Intelligence Bureau (IB) of Pakistan functions as eyes and ears of Pakistan's Prime Minister. After the partition of Indian subcontinent, IB of Pakistan was created from the division of Intelligence Bureau of India on August 17, 1947.

Since earlier getting unseated by ISI as Prime Minister in July 1993 and October 1999, during the current term, Nawaz Sharif was prudent enough to rely more on IB rather than banking upon ISI. Within a short span of taking over as Prime Minister from June 2013, Nawaz Sharif's earliest official engagements included visit (August 23, 2013) to Headquarters of IB located in K-Block, Pakistan Secretariat in Islamabad.

There he personally briefed top notches of IB and sought recommendations and suggestions from the IB bosses to raise its working standard. Significantly, during his visit to IB Headquarters, Nawaz Sharif also lifted ban on the direct recruitments, apparently to counter influence of recruitment made from armed forces in the IB. Nawaz Sharif also assured IB officers for the provision of latest security equipments and gadgets of international standard to the IB to modernize its working and improve its efficiency.

Since President General Parvez Musharraf during his tenure (June 2001-August 2008) had already control over ISI and Military Intelligence, he also gained full control over internal intelligence apparatus of the country apparently to keep a hawk eye on political parties, leaders and their political activities. He ignored police officers for heading the IB and appointed military officers as Director General of IB, these included Maj Gen (retd) Talat Masood (October, 2002), Col. (retd) Bashir Wali Mohammad (October 2002 - February 2004) and Brig(retd.) Ijaij Shah (February 2004 - March 2008).

However Nawaz Sharif, immediately after taking over on third term as Prime Minister counted on a police officer as a chief of IB. Within a day of his taking over as Prime Minster, Nawaz Sharif appointed (June 6, 2013) Aftab Sultan as Chief of IB, who was Inspector General of Police, Punjab (Pakistan) and also a close confidant of Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother and Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan).

On April 4, 2015, Nawaz Sharif had extended tenure of Aftab Sultan as DG Intelligence Bureau by a year. Aftab Sultan is an old hand in intelligence setup of Pakistan. Earlier in 2011 he had also served as DG, Intelligence Bureau, during Prime Ministership of Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government.

Aftab Sultan was born in 1951 in Faisalabad (Pakistan). Aftab Sultan, is a law graduate from the Punjab (Pakistan) University, and holds degree in Master's in Law from the University of Cambridge. He is also M.Sc in jurisprudence and legal studies from the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASI) in 1977. In 1983 he was promoted as Superintendent of Police (SP). Aftab Sultan was promoted in 2000 as a Deputy Inspector General of Police(DIG). Later he was promoted as Additional IG Finance and elfare in Punjab and DGP.

Aftab Sultan is known to be an upright professional and honest police officer. During President General Parvez Musharraf's regime Aftab Sultan was posted as a Regional Police Officer (RPO) of Sargodha region in 2002. General Parvez Musharraf, who came into power through a military coup on October 22, 1999, in a bid to give a civilian colour to his regime had held a presidential referendum (April 30, 2002) allowing him to serve as President of Pakistan for another five years.

During referendum exercise, Aftab Sultan developed serious differences with Parvez Musharraf's regime. He was directed to play an active role to increase the turn out in referendum by pressurizing the general public through police force under him, which he refused to do so and had left his post under protest against military regime's illegal overture. He was made as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for his defiance.

It is maintained that in the past Pakistani governments had used IB to achieve their political agenda. In November 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had issued notice to the then DG,IB, Akhtar Hussain and two former DGs of the IB, Masood Sharif Khattak and Tariq Lodhi for drawing over Rs. 270 million from PPP led federal governments to topple Punjab (Pakistan) governments of opposition parties.

Earlier in November 1996, when Benazir Bhutto government was dismissed, her government was accused using IB to achieve its political ends by telephone tapping of politicians and military officers, interception of mail and indulging in other wrongful doings and the then IB Chief Masood Sharif was arrested on the charges of murder.

With regards to working of IB, Pakistan, it is the prime domestic intelligence and espionage agency of the country. It functions under Prime Minister's Cabinet Division. IB, Pakistan under its present chief Aftab Sultan is believed to have shifted agency's focus on law and order conditions of the country and mainly focusing on job of gathering intelligence for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against roguish elements, who could and are capable of creating law and order problem in the country.

However, in August,2014, Imran Khan, Chief of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had alleged that Aftab Sultan, on the directives of Nawaz Sharif distributed over one crore Pak rupees to TV anchors and journalists to tarnish the image of PTI and save Nawaz Sharif led government, which was vehemently denied by Aftab Sultan.

Before Aftab Sultan's taking over as head of IB, the agency was known to be working as a second fiddle to the ISI, which is not in the case as Nawaz Sharif's present government. IB is equipped with required latest technical and operational tools of international standard. In addition, lifting on ban on direct recruitment in IB by Nawaz Sharif government in August 2013, influence of armed forces staff posted in IB has also dissipated to a large extent.

Just like any other intelligence agency, the IB personnel of Pakistan also work under extreme harsh conditions, even occasionally leading to causalities at senior level too. On July 7, 2012, IB's Deputy Director Qamar Raza was gunned downed by unidentified gunmen in Karachi, the notorious city of Pakistan. Incidentally, IB's Deputy Director posted in Karachi is number two in the hierarchy of the agency. Since 2012, over twenty officials of IB, Pakistan had been killed in various operations throughout the country.

IB, Pakistan grew under the Benazir Bhutto's second term (October 1993 - November 1996) as Prime Minister and now current third term of Nawaz Sharif's beginning from June 2013 as their political career had been damaged by the powerful ISI. Nawaz Sharif brought sweeping changes in the functioning of IB, and the most important was lifting decades old ban on direct recruitments in the agency, apparently to check dominance of armed forces recruits in IB.

Nawaz Sharif also played a vital role in modernizing the IB in terms of technical excellence to meet the present day internal intelligence requirements of the country. Despite all such measures, real power is still with ISI vis-a-vis influencing and over sighting the political situation in the country, as suitable to the Pakistan army. Although Pakistan's IB is no match to the ISI but it has its own importance to assist Prime Minister in formulating political strategy and keep an eye on his political opponents.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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