No extension to be given to ISI chief: Report

Last Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 18:35

Islamabad: The Pakistan government will not
grant any further extension to ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja
Pasha, whose current term ends in March, and is considering
the names of three generals to replace him, according to a
media report on Thursday.

The government`s decision not to grant any further
extension to Pasha, a close aide of army chief Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani, was made against the backdrop of a recent spike
in tensions between the civilian administration and the
military.

The front-runners for the post of ISI chief include Chief
of General Staff Lt Gen Wahid Arshad, Karachi Corps Commander
Lt Gen Muhammad Zahirul Islam and Peshawar Corps Commander Lt
General Khalid Rabbani, `The Express Tribune` quoted its
sources as saying. All three are to retire in 2014.

A military source told the Tribune that Islam is believed
to be a strong contender because of a previous stint with the
ISI.
Before being appointed the Karachi Corps Commander, Islam
was the head of ISI`s internal wing that deals with
counter-intelligence and domestic issues.

An unnamed government official told the daily that a
decision had been made that no further extension would be
granted to Pasha, whose relations with the government have
become strained after he actively pursued the memo scandal.

Pasha has been granted two extensions since he reached the
age of retirement in March 2010 and both were for a year.
The government had said he had been retained for his key
role in the war on terrorism.

The government plans to appoint the new ISI chief weeks
before Pasha`s tenure ends on March 18 in a bid to pre-empt
any further misunderstanding with the military, the official
was quoted as saying. There were no indications that Kayani would be interested
in an extension for Pasha, the report said.

The appointment of Pasha`s successor will assume greater
significance in the backdrop of recent tensions between the
government and the military over the alleged memo that had
sought US help to stave off a possible coup last year.

Though the Prime Minister has the authority to appoint the
future ISI chief, it would be a rare move for the civilian
government to take the decision without having the military
establishment on board, the report said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has reportedly been a
"specific target of the military`s ire", it added.
Gilani`s recent remarks that the army and ISI chiefs had
acted in an "unconstitutional and illegal" manner in their
handling of the memo issue earned a rebuke from the military,
which said his comments could have "grievous consequences".

The premier had also sacked the Defence Secretary, a
retired general considered close to Kayani, on charges of
gross misconduct. The Secretary has challenged the sacking in
court.
Past attempts by former Prime Ministers to appoint
generals closer to the civilian government as the ISI chief
have backfired.

Slain premier Benazir Bhutto appointed Lt Gen (retired)
Shamsur Rahman Kallu as the ISI chief during her first tenure
but the move only led to strained ties between her government
and then army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Baig.

Similarly, Nawaz Sharif appointed Lt Gen (retired)
Ziauddin Butt as the ISI head during his tenure but the
decision led to eventual ouster of his government by then army
chief Gen Parvez Musharraf in October 1999.

Despite the current friction between civil and military
authorities, consultations are believed to be underway for the
appointment of the new ISI chief.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 18:35

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