The chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has left for an undisclosed foreign location in the backdrop of reports that he may step down over the Osama bin Laden debacle.
This development came even as it emerged that the US has demanded the identities of some top ISI top operatives as it tries to determine if any of them had contact with the al Qaeda leader in the years before Monday’s raid that killed him.
Pasha left Pakistan on Friday. The Dawn newspaper reported he had gone to Washington on a “critical mission to put an end to misgivings about Pakistan in the US”. But sources told PTI he left for an undisclosed location, as a fallout of the US raid in Abbottabad.
Some reports said Pasha may have travelled to a friendly country like China or Saudi Arabia but this could not immediately be confirmed. There were also uncorroborated reports that Pasha met the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad before going abroad and reminded him of the ISI’s contributions to the war on terror.
Pasha’s resignation seemed imminent with media reports on Friday saying the ISI chief “may step down as the government looks for a fall guy”.
Meanwhile, quoting unnamed United States officials, the New York Times said members of the United States administration have expressed deep frustration with Pakistani military and intelligence officials for their refusal, over the years, to identify members of the ISI who were believed to have close ties to the al Qaeda chief and his agents.
"In particular, American officials have demanded information on what is known as the ISI's directorate, which has worked closely with militants since the days of the fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan," the daily said.
"It's hard to believe (Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq) Kayani and Pasha actually knew Bin Laden was there," a senior administration official, on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying. But, the official added, "there are degrees of knowing, and it wouldn't surprise me if we find out that someone close to Pasha knew".