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Pakistani military may pay for intelligence lapse

world Updated: May 07, 2011 01:32 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

There are strong indications that Pakistan's security establishment may witness a major shakeup as a fallout of Monday's US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The military has tried to place the blame on the civilian administration and the CIA for not cooperating in its intelligence-sharing. Now, it seems the Pakistan army may have to sacrifice one of its own, possibly from the top of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

According to sources in New Delhi, ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha is seen as particularly vulnerable.

At a media briefing here last week, a Pakistan army general said there were more CIA operatives on the ground in the country than there were ISI agents.

Journalist Quatrina Hosain said the media was told that this massive presence of CIA personnel was a consequence of the Asif Ali Zardari government issuing 7,000 visas without ISI clearance.

Then on Thursday, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani called for a reduction in American military presence in Pakistan and warned of strict action against the US or any other country that contemplated another Abbottabad in Pakistan in the future.

On Pakistan's being in the dark about the al Qaeda chief's presence in Abbottabad, just 60 km from Islamabad, the army admitted it was due to failure to follow up a lead, and also due to a lack of trust between the CIA and the ISI.

"We made a mistake. We did not follow the lead. We should have," the general said, adding that the intelligence was shared some months back with the CIA but then wasn't followed up.

"We told them of suspicious calls that had been intercepted."

There is growing criticism within Pakistan about Islamabad's inability to monitor the activities of US military personnel.

During Friday prayers across the country, more anger was expressed over US interference in Pakistan's internal affairs than over bin Laden's death.

The government, on its part, is trying hard to salvage its relationship with the US as it is aware of the implications of worsening ties.

There are moves, said Umar Cheema, another journalist, that not only will the intelligence agencies be restructured, even legislation will be initiated to bring them under the cover of the civilian government.

Inputs from New Delhi