ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government has reportedly decided against extending the tenure of the chief of its spy agency, DawnNews reported late Saturday.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has been the Director General (DG) of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency for the last three-and-a-half years, will reportedly be transferred to the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) as its head.
Pasha was handed a one-year extension as chief of the premier spy agency last March. However, following his alleged role in the Memogate scandal, it was being reported that Pasha will not be given another extension.
According to sources quoted by DawnNews, the government is keeping mum on ths issue for now. “Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will take the final decision after his one-on-one meeting with the President Asif Ali Zardari,” sources told DawnNews.
In what may come as a surprising development, the government may appoint a non-military official or a retired military officer as the new chief of the ISI.
Meanwhile, another source close to Pasha disclosed that the DG ISI did not want an extension, particularly after the bitter memogate episode, which had reportedly distanced him from the prime minister.
At least four senior military officers, including the Corps Commander Lahore Lieutenant General Rashid, Corps Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Zaheer-ul-Islam, Deputy Director General ISI Major General Asfandyar Pataudi and the incumbent DG Military Intelligence Major General Noshad Kayani are also being considered for the slot to be vacated by Pasha.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said last week that his country’s ties with Pakistan could be affected by Pasha’s retirement.
If Pasha is appointed the head of the Strategic Plans Division, he will replace Lieutenant General (retired) Khalid Qidwai, who has been heading this organisation for the last 12 years.
Sources claim that the government believes Pasha’s appointment as DG PSD will “help the future of Pak-US nuclear and strategic engagement.”