Do not give extension to Pasha: PML-N to Pak govt

Islamabad: The main opposition PML-N has asked the government not to give another extension to ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, saying Pakistan had been affected by "massive intelligence failures" like the Mumbai attacks during his tenure.

Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is also Leader of Opposition in the lower house of parliament, said the army should devise a strategy for replacing the head of the ISI instead of seeking a third extension for Pasha.

Khan, who is considered lose to the security establishment and comes from a family with a military background, said Pasha had a history of "massive intelligence failures".

"During Pasha`s tenure, the nation witnessed massive intelligence failures like the Abbottabad raid (against Osama bin Laden), Mumbai tragedy, the attack on the Mehran naval airbase, Memogate and the NATO attack on Salala check post (in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed)," Khan said at a news conference in Lahore on Wednesday.

"It was unfortunate that despite all this, according to Pasha, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has repeatedly stopped him from resigning, which is strange," he said.

Khan said there were "a lot of competent generals" who are capable of heading the ISI and that the army should devise a strategy on who should replace Pasha.

The PML-N and civil society would protest against a possible extension for Pasha, who should be replaced by a competent and capable general, he said.

The PML-N leader`s comments came against the backdrop of reports that the Pakistan People`s Party-led government is considering a proposal to give another extension to Pasha, who reached the age of retirement in 2010 and has already had his term extended twice.

Khan also criticised the ISI`s alleged role in bringing about a "so-called revolution" through a political party.

The PML-N has prepared a draft law to regulate the role of intelligence agencies but the government had the first right to take the initiative to stop "forced disappearances" or the detention of people without charge, he said.

The PML-N will table a resolution in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament next week, calling for defining the role of intelligence agencies in internal affairs as laid down in the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML-N and PPP in 2006, he said.

This resolution is aimed at confining intelligence agencies to their original role of improving national security and not letting anyone interfere in their working, he said.

The PML-N`s criticism of the ISI and its chief comes at a time when the Supreme Court has piled on the pressure on military intelligence agencies to clear the air on "missing persons" or those detained without charge and to produce such persons before authorities.

Such open criticism of the powerful intelligence agencies is unusual in Pakistan, where the military has ruled the country for more than half its history.

Khan contended that according to a rough estimate, there were between 2,000 and 10,000 "missing persons" in Pakistan who were believed to be in the custody of security agencies.