The Pakistani government has granted status of a Special Vetting Agency (SVA) to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), empowering it to complete verification and screening of all government officers. “The prime minister is pleased to notify the Directorate General ISI as SVA for verification and screening of all public office holders (officers’ category) for induction, important posting/appointments and promotions,” the official notification issued after the premier’s approval read. The decision was reportedly taken in a recent cabinet meeting but was kept hidden though the ISI has already sought data of government officers and their families from the departments concerned. Previously, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was performing the vetting process. Earlier, the ISI was tasked with vetting cases of officials before they were posted abroad. The decision to give powers to the ISI came days after the Supreme Court restrained the executive authorities from transfers, postings and removal of officials involved in the investigation or prosecution of high-profile corruption cases against top government functionaries, especially PM Shehbaz and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz. A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, had issued the verdict while hearing a suo motu case regarding the alleged government interference in the affairs of prosecution as well as investigation branches in high-profile cases.
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