Pakistani daily sizes up new ISI chief

March 11th, 2012 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 11 (IANS) Intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism are messy jobs and it will have to be seen “how clean the mess can be kept by the new ISI spymaster”, a Pakistani daily said Sunday.

Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam is to succeed Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha who is “just about to end what can be described as a roller-coaster career as ISI chief which saw major events including GHQ coming under attack from militants, the Mumbai bombings, the May 2 Abbottabad operation and the Memogate affair”, an editorial in the News International said.

The daily said that history will assign Pasha “due credit or deserved blame for his role and responsibility in these and other matters”.

It said there are allegations of Pash supporting cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

The editorial noted that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Pasha became somewhat open in discussing its policies and plans, especially with the media.

“He was also perceived to be generally firm while dealing with the CIA, the Pentagon and other US institutions and officials - at times flying in and out of Washington in a matter of hours, just to send the ‘right messages’ and expressing his anger and sometimes protests over events and developments,” it said.

The editorial went on to say that Pasha’s successor, Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, has been described as a competent, honest and straightforward person who brings with him rich experience in the fields of internal security and intelligence.

“His appointment is being seen by some as critical in the context of the problems Pakistan-US ties have run into, the Afghan situation and the approaching general elections with the institutions of state at loggerheads with each other on many issues.

“How and why Zaheerul Islam’s appointment should be critical in all these respects remains to be seen…Indeed, the task is not going to be easy; he will have to clear many negative perceptions and, maybe, create a new image for his organisation.

“And as we know, for images and perceptions to change, we need a change in the reality in which they may be rooted.”

“Despite the fact that spying, intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism are messy jobs, it will have to be seen how clean the mess can be kept by the new ISI spymaster,” it added.

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