Newsmaker – New Pakistan Spy Chief Tough on Terror
By Chris Brummitt
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s army chief named a general considered a hawk in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban to head the country’s powerful spy agency, asserting his control at a time of U.S. concern that rogue operatives are aiding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha oversaw military offensives against militants in the lawless border regions with Afghanistan in his most recent job as director general of military operations.
His appointment as head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence the country’s main spy agency, was part of a broader shake-up of army top brass announced late Monday by military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The moves were seen as a bid by the reform-minded general to revive the prestige of Pakistan’s armed forces and assert control over the spy agency following the downfall of ex-President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in August.
Pasha commanded U.N. troops in Sierra Leone in 2001-02 and was appointed by the world body as an adviser on peacekeeping operations last year .
Analysts agreed the appointment should unify Pakistan’s anti- terrorism fight.
“Now you have a team in place that includes the new ISI chief … who shares Kayani’s view of how to deal with the insurgency in the tribal area and that is to adopt a tough line,” said defense analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.
The spy agency has helped kill or capture several top al-Qaida leaders since 2001, but there are lingering doubts about its loyalty, not least because its agents helped build up the Taliban in the 1990s.
U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements may still be giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan, even though Pakistan officially is a U.S. ally in fighting terrorism.
Some analysts say elements in the spy agency may want to retain the Taliban as potential assets against longtime rival India and believe Pakistan’s strategic interests are best served if Afghanistan remains a weak state.
Originally published by Chris Brummitt Associated Press .
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