Under intense global scrutiny over his spy agency's failure to detect Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha has "surrendered" himself to Parliament so that he could be held accountable for any lapses related to the unilateral US raid that killed the dreaded terrorist.
Pasha's dramatic announcement came today during an in-camera joint session of Parliament that was briefed by top military officials about the covert operation by US special forces that resulted in the killing of the world's most wanted terrorist in the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2.
"Clearly, the Director General (of the) ISI surrendered himself to Parliament and said he was ready to appear before the Pakistani Prime Minister or Parliament or any commission as he considers himself accountable," Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media. Awan quoted Pasha as saying that he was ready to face the consequences of any "negligence or intentional failure" linked to the US raid against bin Laden.
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani attended the joint session of Parliament that was briefed by the ISI chief, Deputy Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleman and the Director General of Military Operations. The briefing was followed by a question-and-answer session.
The military and government are facing embarrassing questions after the US raid against bin Laden brought to light the fact that he had been living for years in the garrison city of Abbottabad that is home to thousands of soldiers and several key military institutions.
The US administration has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to probe allegations of complicity or incompetence following the security establishment's failure to detect bin Laden's presence. Pakistan's civilian government has been criticised by sections of the media and the public for its failure to act against the powerful military for its perceived failure to detect bin Laden as well as the raid by US special forces.
Awan quoted ISI chief Pasha as saying that some members of political parties were criticising the Pakistan army and intelligence services and that this would go against "national interests and strengthen the enemy". She contended that it was time to stand behind the armed forces like a rock and boost their morale.
"They should be assured that they were not alone and the whole nation was behind them. They need to be supported at this critical juncture." Awan asked all political forces to foil attempts by the "enemies of Pakistan" to create a wedge between the people and the armed forces. She quoted the ISI chief as telling Parliament that the spy agency had "paralysed" al-Qaeda and "broken its back" even before the killing of bin Laden, by shattering the entire network of the terrorist group.