ISI chief visits Qatar (Lead)

December 30th, 2011 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Dec 30 (IANS) Pakistan spy chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha has met US officials during a visit to Qatar, which is also US Central Command’s regional headquarters.

Gen Pasha, who heads the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), earlier this week visited Qatar, where a Taliban liaison office is also likely to be set up.

Dawn said Gen Pasha’s visit led to speculations about an “intelligence back channel” between Pakistan and the US.

The ISI chief’s foreign trips are not officially announced.

Gen Pasha’s visit took place amid strained ties following the Nov 26 NATO airstrikes on two Pakistani Army checkposts in Mohmand Agency that killed two dozen soldiers, sparking outrage in Pakistan. Islamabad promptly barred the passage of NATO supplies through the country and decided to boycott the Bonn conference that discussed the future course of action in Afghanistan.

The media report said that the general returned Wednesday from the Qatar trip that had been authorised by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

A western diplomatic source said the ISI chief met US officials during his Qatar visit.

The Pakistan spy chief’s trip came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he will back the opening of a Taliban liaison office in Qatar so as to help the peace process.

The Taliban reportedly wants to set up the office from which it can negotiate a peace deal. But the peace process was impacted after a suicide bombing killed Afghan peace negotiator and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani Sep 20.

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