Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan appoints new intelligence chief


Pakistan named a new chief for its main intelligence service, a change sure to be closely scrutinized by US officials who have questioned the powerful spy agency’s loyalties in the “war on terror.”

The appointment of Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha as head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was among several changes in what appeared to be a major shake-up of the military leadership.

In his most recent capacity as director-general of military operations, Pasha oversaw military offensives against insurgents in the nuclear-armed nation’s restive northwest.

The region is reportedly home to Taliban and al-Qaeda militants involved in attacks on US and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as rising strikes within Pakistan.

The statement late on Monday gave no more details about Pasha, but Pakistani defense analyst Talat Masood described him as “highly professional.”

Pasha replaces Lieutenant-General Nadeem Taj, who was in the position about a year after being appointed by former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, a former army chief and US ally, was forced to quit the presidency in August amid threats of impeachment by the fledgling civilian government.

The statement listed several new postings that are expected to take effect in several weeks.

Masood said that the changes appeared to be an effort by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who succeeded Musharraf as army chief and once headed the ISI himself, to consolidate his control over the military.

US intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements in the ISI have been giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid them in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

India and Afghanistan — and reportedly the US — also suspect the agency of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India’s Embassy in Kabul that killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies the allegations.

Pakistani intelligence helped create the Taliban militia, many of whose leaders and recruits studied at religious schools in Pakistan.

The army statement said Taj has been appointed Corps Commander for Gujranwala.

Major Murad Khan, an army spokesman, said yesterday that Major-General Javed Iqbal would succeed Pasha as director-general of military operations. He declined to provide any details about Iqbal.

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