The US’ Operation Neptune Spear that hunted down Osama bin Laden may cost Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha his job.
Government sources said Major General Isfandiyar Ali Pataudi — who was recently appointed deputy director general — would be a prime contender for the key post if Pasha is forced to become the fall guy.
Maj Gen Pataudi — the first cousin of former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi — has strong India connections. The security establishment, however, does not expect the link to tone down its “psychological fixation” with India.
Pakistani PM Yousaf Raza Gilani had on Monday defended the ISI during his first address to Parliament, insisting that it was absurd to accuse the spy agency of complicity.
Gilani’s backing for ISI was seen as a new lease of life for Pasha who had been under criticism after the Osama operation.
An official in the Indian security establishment suggested that the PM’s defence was on expected lines but did not mean Pasha would keep the job.
CD Sahay, former director of R&AW, India’s external intelligence agency, agreed.
“There is strong public outrage in Pakistan. Someone has to go. It cannot afford to sack Gen (Ashfaq) Kayani because the Army’s morale is already very low,” Sahay said.
“Shuja Pasha does appear dispensable at the moment,” he added, emphasizing that it was, however, naive to expect the ISI to soften even if Pataudi takes charge. “There will be only temporary cooling down, if any. The ISI will not change,” he said.