ISLAMABAD/NEW YORK: To allay both domestic and international anger and dismay over the presence of Osama bin Laden in a military cantonment town close to the capital, senior Pakistani officials said that ISI Chief General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may step down soon.
According to a news report published in ‘The Daily Beast’ and ‘News Week’, they recognize that an important head has to roll and soon. The Daily Beast quoted that the Pakistani officials said the most likely candidate to be the fall guy is Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director general of the country’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.
These high-level sources, who refused to be quoted or named, say that it’s nearly a done deal. Savvy Pakistani analysts who have close connections to the military agree. “It would make a lot of sense,” says retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Talat Masood. “It’s in his (Pasha’s) personal and the national interest to take the heat off.”
He said 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.
The U.S. 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,” says Masood. “They see this as the fault of the military in which they have invested so much trust.” Pasha’s resignation could be the first step in a process of rebuilding that badly damaged confidence, Masood and the senior Pakistani officials say. “It could ease a lot of pressure,” Masood says. It would also help rehabilitate the army’s and the ISI’s badly tarnished image.
“People are outraged,” says retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Talat Masood. “They see this as the fault of the military in which they have invested so much trust.” Personally, Pasha could go out with honor and also dispel the notion that he was personally incompetent if he does step down soon as is widely expected. “It would help Pasha as an individual because in Pakistan, no one resigns to accept blame for anything,” says Masood. “It would be a first.”
Apparently, he would not be leaving a job he loves. The senior 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 the job when he was nominated in 2008. “No one would have been as trustworthy to Kayani,” says Masood. “Kayani thought it was very useful to have him there.”
Even some family members are said to be urging him to step down and had opposed him taking the ISI job and now they are pressing him to retire and take an honorable exit from the military. Even so, he is reluctant. He feels his resignation would widely be seen as an admission of responsibility, if not guilt, the sources say.
The senior Pakistani officials who know Pasha and have spoken to him since the raid say they are convinced that the ISI chief did not know of bin Laden’s whereabouts. That may be true, but he may have no choice but to fall on his sword. It’s likely that Pakistani generals will decide that someone will have to become the scapegoat in an effort to limit the damage to the armed forces—and that Pasha will most likely be the man.
Gen. Masood doesn’t believe senior Pakistani officers were colluding with bin Laden and al Qaeda. “It was sheer incompetence,” he says of Pakistan’s failure to find him. Rather he believes that local civilian and security officials in Abbottabad could have protecting him. “There could have been some connivance in the civil administration, the police and the drug mafia that are powerful there,” he says. “There had to be some kind of umbrella.” “Otherwise it was not possible to bin Laden to hide,” Masood adds. “People are very nosy. They would have asked who is living there.” If they did, no Pakistani official seemed to listen.
When contacted a senior ISI official he contradicted the report and said he has no knowledge of Pasha being pressured into resigning. He said the DG ISI is currently on a foreign tour adding “It’s far from routine for someone to resign over failures – Onlinenews