Islamabad: ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has left for the US to explain Pakistan`s position on the presence of Osama bin Laden in the country against the backdrop of reports that he may step down over the debacle.
Pasha set off on the “critical mission for putting an end to misgivings about Pakistan in the US” yesterday, the influential Dawn newspaper reported today.
He left for the US a day after the Army`s top brass conceded an intelligence failure in detecting the al Qaeda chief`s presence in a compound located a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
With Pasha hoping to restore trust during his US visit, The Daily Beast, a website affiliated to Newsweek magazine, reported that the ISI chief “may step down, as the government looks for a fall guy for the bin Laden debacle”.
It said Pasha`s resignation “was only a matter of time”.
The Dawn said uncorroborated reports suggested that Pasha met the CIA`s station chief in Islamabad before leaving for Washington and reminded him of the ISI`s contributions in the war on terror and the lead about bin Laden`s courier that eventually led the US to the al Qaeda chief`s hideout.
Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US special forces on the Abbottabad compound of the al Qaeda chief on May 02.
An official statement issued on Thursday after a meeting of Corps Commanders chaired by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the military admitted its “own shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan”.
It said that “an investigation has been ordered into the circumstances that led to this situation”.
Though the Corps Commanders meeting tried to address public doubts about the military`s capabilities, analysts and observers have said that there are numerous unanswered questions regarding bin Laden`s presence in Abbottabad, just 120 km from Islamabad, and the US raid.
Though US officials have said that they do not have any evidence which proves that the top brass of the Pakistani military and intelligence were aware of bin Laden`s presence in the country, they have put the onus on Pakistan to prove its innocence.
“Pakistan is now being asked to do something that could prove its sincerity and commitment to the fight against militancy,” the Dawn reported.
While addressing a news briefing on bin Laden`s killing on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said reports about the ISI and elements in government being in cahoots with al Qaeda were “a false hypothesis”.
The report about the ISI chief`s possible resignation has struck a chord with the Pakistani public, who feel they have been let down by the army and intelligence agency because of their failure to detect the presence of the world`s most wanted man and their lack of knowledge of the US raid.
A message widely circulated on SMS and Twitter over the past two days reflected the anger and indignation of the people.
It read: “For sale! Obsolete Army radar, can`t detect copters, but can receive signals of Star Plus. Only Rs 999.”