Pasha offers to quit over Bin Laden issue
ISLAMABAD - Chief of Pakistan's premier spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen. Shujaa Pasha on Friday offered to quit while accepting responsibility for negligence over US operation in Abbotabad that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.
"It was the failure of my institution and I am prepared to resign if Parliament so desires," Gen. Pasha said in his testimony before an in-camera joint session of Parliament here.
The proceedings were leaked to the Press by lawmakers during break for prayers.
Federal minister Riaz Pirzada briefly spoke to the media and confirmed most of media reports but denied there were any hot exchanges or that shame shame slogans were raised during Pasha's statement. He said all concerned were respectable to each other and the tension that initially prevailed in the house later turned into more cordial atmosphere. The session continued late at night.
Pasha acknowledged that the US did not share intelligence with Pakistan about Bin Laden's presence in Abbotabad and later the helicopter raid to kill him.
He said during his reported presence in Abbotabad Bin Laden never emerged from the house. His wife, who is currently in Pakistani custody, visited doctor or bought medicines. He admitted that the intelligence agency was unable to detect presence of either Bin Laden or his family in the house.
Pasha, however, recalled instances of intelligence failure in other countries including 9/11 in the US, Mumbai attack in India and 7/7 train bombing in the UK. He said nobody in these countries targeted intelligence agencies but steps were taken to strengthen their operation.
He said it is up to Parliament to review relations with the United States. The political leadership should spell out policy outlines to the security agencies, he added.The ISI chief had to face severe criticism from opposition members who blamed his agency for involvement in political affairs and masterminding toppling of democratic governments or forming alliances at the cost of preserving security and defence of the country.
Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Sulaiman also acknowledged that his institution's radar system failed to detect the flight of American helicopters which, he said, had stealth technology. He said the helicopter flew as low as 50 feet from the ground and chose hilly pathway to avoid radar detection.
To a question Rao said the Shamsi airfield in Balochistan has been leased to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but did not confirm that the US has been using the base for drone attacks in tribal areas.
Rao claimed that the Pakistan Air Force is capable of bringing down US predators used for drone attacks provided the government so desires.
Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was also present during the briefing, the second in three years.