Pakistan’s ISI chief may quit

May 7th, 2011 - 2:05 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Islamabad, May 6 (IANS) Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha may step down after the debacle over Osama bin Laden, a media report said Friday.

To assuage both domestic and international anger and dismay over the presence of the Al Qaeda leader in a military cantonment town close to the capital, senior Pakistani officials have told the Daily Beast news website they recognize that an important head has to roll and soon.

They say the most likely candidate to be sacked is Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director general of the country’s spy agency, the ISI directorate.

In a last-ditch effort to control the damage and to assure the US that the ISI was not harboring Osama and was unaware of his presence in Pakistan, Pasha reportedly flew to Washington Friday, the report said.

But the high-level sources who refused to be quoted or named say his resignation is only a matter of time.

Pakistanis are furious that the ISI and the powerful military, which control national security policy, could have been so incompetent as not to know that the Al Qaeda leader was comfortably holed up in Abbottabad, just 120 km north of Islamabad.

However, the report quoted a senior ISI officer as saying: “It’s far from routine for someone to resign over failures.” “But someone has to resign.”

A former ISI officer was more blunt. “It was a great failure of, and an embarrassment to, Pakistani intelligence,” he said. “The pressure is mounting for Pasha to resign.”

Osama was killed in a US commando operation May 2 in his hideout in Abbottabad near Islamabad.

After the raid, President Barack Obama in a televised address confirmed the Al Qaeda leader’s death. Osama’s death ended nearly a decade-long manhunt for the US’s most wanted terrorist.

Pakistani sources say that Pasha was never keen on the ISI job in the first place. He had no background in intelligence and was an infantry and armour officer in previous commands.

He was, however, very close to Kayani, who insisted he take up the job when he was nominated in 2008.

Pasha’s resignation will not affect the US probe of how Osama was able to hide right under the noses of the Pakistani military for so long.

Clearly Washington suspects there must have been some official collusion at the highest level of the Pakistani security forces, the report said. The trove of documents, hard drives and memory sticks that the US Navy Seals removed from bin Laden’s residence during the raid could provide some clues to American investigators, it said.

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