Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha during a meeting in Islamabad.—File photo

NEW YORK: In what is seen here as an unprecedented attack on the chief of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, a leading American newspaper called upon the US government on Friday to use its influence to hasten departure of Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

“It should tell Pakistan’s security leadership that if Washington identifies anyone in ISI or the army as abetting terrorists, those individuals will face sanctions like travel bans or other measures.”

The New York Times came up with an editorial which lashed out at ISI and said it had “become inimical to Pakistani and American interests” and asked President Asif Ali Zardari “to speak out firmly against abuses, insist on adherence to the rule of law and join his political rival, Nawaz Sharif, in pressing the security services to change”.

“That can start by insisting on the retirement of Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, and the appointment of a more credible successor,” the newspaper said in a second editorial on the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad.

The editorial said: “Now the Obama administration has evidence implicating the ISI in this brutal killing.” According to The Times’s Jane Perlez and Eric Schmitt, American officials say new intelligence indicates that senior ISI officials ordered the attack on Mr Shahzad to silence him.

Adm Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed on Thursday that Pakistan’s government “sanctioned” the killing, but he did not tie it directly to ISI.—Masood Haider