ISI chief Pasha may be made scapegoat for Pak’s Osama bin Laden debacle
May 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Islamabad, May 7(ANI): Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha may have to step down as the Pakistan government looks for a fall guy for the Osama bin Laden debacle, according to Pakistani officials.
Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamiatulema-i-Islam rally to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden. More photos »
The Al Qaeda chief, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed Sunday night in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.
Senior Pakistani officials said they recognize that an important head has to roll soon to allay both domestic and international anger and dismay over the presence of bin Laden in a military cantonment town close to the capital, and ISI Director General Pasha is the most likely candidate to be the fall guy, The Daily Beast reports.
In a last ditch effort to control the damage and to assure the US that the ISI was not harbouring him and was unaware of his presence in Pakistan, Pasha has reportedly flown to Washington, but these high-level sources said on the condition of anonymity that his resignation is only a matter of time.
Savvy Pakistani analysts who have close connections to the military agree.
“It would make a lot of sense,” said retired Pakistani general and security analyst Talat Masood. “It’s in his (Pasha’s) personal and the national interest to take the heat off.”
Pakistanis across the board are furious that the ISI and the powerful military, which control the national security policy, could have been so incompetent not to know that the al Qaeda leader was comfortably holed up in Abbottabad.
“Never before have the military and the ISI come under such criticism. People are also angry, if not embarrassed, that the military, which eats the lion’s share of the national budget and is seen as the country’s protector from invading forces, particularly neighbouring India, could be totally unaware that American helicopters had violated Pakistani airspace,” said Masood.
“The US choppers had hovered over the town during the 40 minute-long operation in the town, and then returned to Afghanistan without a response. “People are outraged,” said Masood, noting: “They see this as the fault of the military in which they have invested so much trust.”
A senior ISI officer said he had no knowledge of Pasha being pressured into resigning. “It’s far from routine for someone to resign over failures. But someone has to resign,” he added.
A former ISI officer was more blunt, saying: “It was a great failure of, and an embarrassment to, Pakistani intelligence. The pressure is mounting for Pasha to resign.”
Pasha’s resignation could be the first step in a process of rebuilding that badly damaged confidence, according to Masood and the senior Pakistani officials.
“It could ease a lot of pressure. It would also help rehabilitate the army’s and the ISI’s badly tarnished image,” said Masood.
However, Major General Athar Abbas, spokesman for the Pakistani armed forces, said that reports of Pasha’s resignation are “baseless, without one iota of truth.” (ANI)