Pakistan names new ISI chief, reshuffles army commanders

October 1st, 2008 - 12:08 am ICT by IANS  

Pervez MusharrafIslamabad, Sep 30 (DPA) Pakistan has appointed a new chief of the country’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a major reshuffle of the senior military leadership.Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed ISI director general, according to an army statement issued late Tuesday. He will replace Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, a loyalist of former president Pervez Musharraf, who resigned in August to avoid impeachment.

Army chief General Ishfaq Parvez Kayani also appointed, with the approval of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a new chief of general staff and replaced four of the nine corps commanders. The move is also to strengthen Kayani’s grip over his forces.

The reshuffle comes at a time when Islamabad has intensified its push against the Islamist extremist Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border.

Analysts believe the appointment of Pasha, who has been overseeing the recent military offensive against Islamic militants in tribal areas as the director of operations, would make the spy organ more effective in the country’s fight against terrorism.

The ISI intelligence agency has been in the limelight since 2001 when Pakistan joined the international alliance against terrorism that was created after the attacks by the Al Qaeda terrorist network on the US.

Some officials in Washington have suspected that rogue elements in the agency have supported ongoing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

At the same time, the ISI has captured hundreds of suspected Al Qaeda operatives and handed them over to the US and other Western countries, an effort that attracted heavy criticism from Pakistan’s opposition political parties, Islamists and human rights groups.

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