Pakistan ISI chief may get another extension

Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha`s present term comes to an end on March 18.

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2011, 12:23 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan spy chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may get another extension when his present term comes to an end on March 18, a media report said on Friday.

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head, Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha`s likely extension comes less than a year after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani granted a three-year extension to Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

General Pasha is on a year-long extension that was given in March last year and this extended term ends on March 18.

The daily Dawn quoted sources as saying that the ISI chief is likely to get another two years in office as the country faces serious internal and external security challenges.

Noting that it was rare for an Army officer to get two extensions, the media report said that the move will not come as a surprise given General Pasha`s close association with General Kayani.

"He (General Pasha) enjoys the full confidence of the chief and is fully committed to fighting religious extremism and militancy," a senior official was quoted as saying.

Another reason for his getting a second extension is his ability to get along with the US.

The possible extension in General Pasha`s tenure comes at a time when the relationship between Washington and Islamabad has come under strain following the fatal shooting of two men in Lahore in January by US official Raymond Davis.

The US has demanded that Davis be released as he enjoys diplomatic immunity and put on hold its ties with Pakistan.

"General Pasha`s familiarity with the issue may be important in dealing with the current tension with the United States," Lt General (Retd) Talat Masood was quoted as saying.

"The grave challenges faced by the country require continuity in the ISI leadership."