Though officially formal notification has not been issued for extension in the service of ISI Chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha but it is a foregone conclusion as the Prime Minister has moved the summary to the President. The extension in the tenure of the ISI Chief is demand of the time when Pakistan is in the midst of all sorts of crises at the internal and external levels and in this scenario it would not have been wise to change the command of the premier intelligence agency which is in the forefront to foil the conspiracies of our enemies.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani deserves to be congratulated on taking a relevant and timely initiative of advising President Asif Zardari to extend the service of Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for another two years. The General was due for retirement on March 18, 2010. But considering the messy and dangerous situation in South Asia, especially Pakistan, COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had extended his term for one year, which was within the ambit of the Army Chief’s powers.
The past year has witnessed a number of changes in the region. During his tenure, General Pasha has played an important role in handling many regional issues in the best interest of Pakistan. Truly, it is not easy to accomplish difficult tasks specifically without compromising the country’s integrity and sovereignty.
Once again, with the General’s term due to expire on March 18, 2011, the multi-dimensional threats facing the state, and the challenges of America’s AfPak strategy, have placed it at the crossroads where continuation of the highly sensitive intelligence coordination (between ISI and CIA) is vital for a successful outcome. Thus, Gilani’s recommendation to Zardari for a two-year extension for Pasha reflects a remarkable unanimity of views between the country’s civil and military leadership.
Also, it brings out a complete unity of approach with regard to the implementation of the strategy on national security under the present leadership. In this context, the period between 2011 and 2013 is marked by many crucial events, which may change the course of South Asia significantly. For instance, the term of the present government is due to expire in 2013, while the Army Chief’s tenure expires at almost the same time. Likewise, the security situation in FATA and the Pak-Afghan border coupled with the planned withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan falls within the same timeframe.
General Pasha who earlier as Director General Military Operations and then as DG ISI has indepth knowledge and background of the security challenges facing Pakistan. Pasha has had a distinguished career, spanning more than 32 years, in the Pakistan Army. During Pasha’s tenure as the ISI director general, the army has conducted three successful operations and flushed out terrorists from Swat, South Waziristan and Bajaur. The successful operations and the recent arrests of high-profile al Qaeda and Taliban commanders are considered significant achievements of the ISI. He is rightly perceived as an upright person with unique capabilities who keeps interests of Pakistan uppermost in his mind and is an outspoken person who never hesitates to catch the bull by the horns. It was General Pasha who confronted the CIA Director Leon Panetta with some highly classified and irrefutable evidence that the US agency was interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Panetta was startled when General Pasha, placed the facts before him in Islamabad on November 20, 2009. The “deliberate leaks” after the meeting of the spy chiefs of the two countries, spoke of the mind of the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan. General Pasha had earlier conveyed the facts about the interference of CIA in acts of terrorism in Pakistan to the Government but on realizing that either the message was not strongly conveyed to the Americans or it had no desired impact on them, finally put his foot down and expressed serious concerns over the CIA’s crude interference in the country’s internal matters. Therefore in our view the extension is in the interest of Pakistan as all the major stakeholders will have their tenure till 2013 and they would work in complete harmony to steer the country out of crises.