Pak gets new spy chief
Pakistan has replaced the head of its powerful ISI in an apparent bid to clean up the military spy agency amid western claims that it secretly backs the Taliban.world Updated: Sep 30, 2008 23:38 IST
Pakistan has replaced the head of its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in an apparent bid to clean up the military spy agency amid western claims that it secretly backs the Taliban.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, formerly head of military operations, was appointed director general of the ISI late on Monday, a terse military statement announced. He replaces Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj.
The move was part of a major shake-up of the army’s top brass after US, Afghan and Indian officials alleged in recent months that the shadowy organisation was complicit in Taliban insurgency wracking the region.
Pasha is considered to be a close aide to Pakistani military chief Ashfaq Kayani, who ran the ISI until October last year. Taj, his predecessor, was a key lieutenant of former president Pervez Musharraf.
The army insisted the 14 new appointments announced on Monday were routine. But movements in Pakistan’s military and intelligence services are closely watched by the United States and other allies for signs of the nuclear-armed nation's stability and commitment to war on terror.
“The change comes at a time when there was a lot of talk about ISI in the Western media,” security analyst Talat Masood, a former Pakistan army general, told AFP. “With the new ISI chief, General Kayani has completed a team of his choice. He will be able to now lead the army with greater confidence.”
The ISI has helped capture or kill hundreds of senior Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed 9/11 mastermind. The ISI is feared at home as it plays a central, although covert, political role in a country that has spent more than half of its 61-year history under military rule.
The change in the ISI comes after the government led by President Asif Ali Zardari tried to put the elite agency under the control of the interior ministry in July.
That move was withdrawn after a protest by Pakistan’s military establishment.