|Posted by George Freund on May 25, 2011 at 7:03 PM|
Pakistan's chief spook missing in inaction
Chidanand Rajghatta, May 9, 2011, 12.25am IST
Pasha (right) next to Gen. Ashfaq Kayani on the USS Abraham Lincoln talking with Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
WASHINGTON: The head of Pakistan's spy agency that the United States has informally declared as a terrorist outfit is missing amid calls for his resignation over the Osama bin laden episode.
Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Director General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was reported to have left Pakistan for the United States on "summons" from Washington, but US officials have declined to confirm his arrival or presence here. Some sources indicated Pasha, fearing humiliation or worse, may be meeting with US interlocutors on "neutral" territory in the Gulf or Saudi Arabia.
The Pakistani media on Saturday reported Pasha had left Pakistan for US, where, one newspaper editorial said, "the head of the most formidable institution of the country will have a lot of explaining to do" over the bin Laden's presence in Pakistan. This visit of the ISI head to Washington, the moderate Daily Times said, "does not come as much of a surprise as a 'summons' was to be expected from Pakistan's major aid donor and the chief sponsor of the war on terror."
But Pakistan's ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani said Pasha "is in Islamabad doing his job and has not visited the US since May 2 Abbottabad incident."
Islamabad and Washington are still wrangling over the "complicity" versus "incompetence" charges regarding bin Laden's at least seven-year-stay in Pakistan. Most Americans, including officials and lawmakers, seem to believe Pakistan willfully sheltered him. While the jury is still out on the matter, Pakistan appears to have decided to plead incompetence in not finding him, with reports suggesting Pasha will be made the fall guy in the episode.
The ostensible reason for US summoning Pasha though is to corroborate the trove of information netted during last Sunday's commando action in Abbottabad, when Navy Seals carried away computer hard drives and storage devices found in bin Laden's lair. Following the action, Washington has demanded Pakistan disclose the full roster of ISI agents of its so-called "S" division which is tasked with overseeing terrorist groups.
The "S"division reportedly consists of retired and former army personnel working on a contract basis to enable the security establishment maintain "plausible deniability" in case of exposure. The suspicion in Washington is bin laden was protected by elements of the "S" division with or without the knowledge of their bosses.