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The Osama aftermath: Where is ISI chief Pasha?

Last updated on: May 7, 2011 19:27 IST

The Osama aftermath: Where is ISI chief Pasha?

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Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has embarked on a foreign trip to an undisclosed location against the backdrop of reports that he may step down over the debacle of the Pakistani military's failure to detect Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden's presence in the country.

Coverage: US hunts down Osama bin Laden

Pasha set off for an undisclosed location on Friday and it is believed that his visit is linked to the fallout of Monday's United States raid that resulted in the killing of bin Laden in a compound located a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy in the garrison city of Abbottabad, sources told PTI.

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Image: Pakistan;s Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (right) with ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha

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Pasha may have travelled to China or Saudi Arabia

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The influential Dawn newspaper had reported that Pasha had gone to Washington on a "critical mission for putting an end to misgivings about Pakistan in the US" but the sources said the ISI chief had not gone to the US. Some reports said Pasha may have travelled to a friendly country like China or Saudi Arabia but this could not immediately be confirmed.

An official statement issued on Thursday after a meeting of Corps Commanders chaired by Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the military admitted its "own shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan". It added, "An investigation has been ordered into the circumstances that led to this situation".


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No evidence of Pak military's role in protecting Osama

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The Daily Beast, a website affiliated to Newsweek magazine, reported on Friday that the ISI chief "may step down, as the government looks for a fall guy for the bin Laden debacle". It said Pasha's resignation "was only a matter of time".

There were also uncorroborated reports that Pasha met the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Islamabad before going abroad and reminded him of the ISI's contributions in the war on terror and the lead about bin Laden's courier that eventually led the US to the Al Qaeda chief. Though the Corps commanders meeting on Thursday tried to address public doubts about the military's capabilities, analysts and observers have said that there are numerous unanswered questions regarding bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad, just 120 km from Islamabad, and the US raid.

Though US officials have said they do not have any evidence which proves that the top brass of the Pakistani military and intelligence were aware of bin Laden's presence in the country, they have put the onus on Pakistan to prove its innocence. "Pakistan is now being asked to do something that could prove its sincerity and commitment to the fight against militancy," the Dawn reported.


Image: Pakistan Army chief Kayani

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Pak's common man feels let down by army, ISI

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While addressing a news briefing on bin Laden's killing on Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said reports about the ISI and elements in the government being in cahoots with al Qaeda were "a false hypothesis".

The report about the ISI chief's possible resignation has struck a chord with the Pakistani public, who feel they have been let down by the army and intelligence agency because of their failure to detect the presence of the world's most wanted man and their lack of knowledge of the US raid.

A message widely circulated in Pakistan on SMS and Twitter over the past two days reflected the anger and indignation of the people. It read: "For sale! Obsolete army radar, can't detect copters, but can receive signals of Star Plus. Only Rs 999".

Image: Men read newspapers while sitting near the compound where US Navy SEAL commandos reportedly killed bin Laden in Abbottabad
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
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