ISLAMABAD: Arguably, it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Heading a spy agency that has more often been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons is certainly a tough task. And perhaps that is why the incumbent chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha does not seem keen to get another extension in his service.
Despite speculations that the government may extend his tenure for a third time in an effort to ease tensions with the military, the Director General ISI reportedly told a western diplomat in an informal chat that he wants to go home sooner rather than later.
After heading the country’s premier spy agency since October 2008, Pasha is due to retire on March 18. He was scheduled to retire in March 2010, but was twice given extensions.
“I have had enough of it … I want to get out of it,” Pasha was quoted as saying by the diplomat, who met the ISI chief recently.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Pasha appeared to be “under a lot of stress over the developments that have taken place recently.”
However, the diplomat’s claim could not be independently verified nor was the ISI willing to speak on the subject.
During his tenure a number of events took place notably November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Raymond Davis controversy, the Memogate scandal, the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in an Abbottabad compound and then the NATO attacks on Pakistani checkposts in Salala.
The presence of Bin Laden in Abbottabad had raised questions about the ability, or intentions, of the country’s intelligence agencies, including the ISI, to hunt down the world’s most wanted man.
At a joint session of Parliament, convened after the Abbottabad raid, General Pasha had offered to resign over the debacle but the government didn’t accept it.
“That was a mistake. We should have accepted his resignation,” said a ruling Pakistan Peoples Party member, who was unhappy with the way Pasha pursued the memo issue.
He said that the government had already decided against giving him yet another extension in his service.
Recently, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also dismissed reports that he was considering a proposal to grant another extension, but said a decision on this issue would be made at the “appropriate time”.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2012.