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ISI gets new chief, is he a US choice?

Sep 30, 2008 09:30 PM IST India India

Islamabad: Amid intense pressure from the United States to deliver on the war on terror, the chief of Pakistan's powerful ISI has been shunted out of Islamabad.

Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, considered close to the reform-minded Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has replaced him.

Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj was on the hit list of US for alleged ties to Taliban extremists and militant groups in the Pak-Afghan border.

Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha was serving as Director General of Military Operations in the General Headquarters until his new posting as ISI chief.

An army statement on Monday announced the elevation and appointment of Pasha to the sensitive post of Director General of the ISI to replace Taj, who had been handpicked by General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani President.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who directly looks after the affairs of the intelligence establishment, approved Pasha’s appointment. This was reported by the Pakistani daily, The News.

Pasha has been overseeing Pakistani military operations against insurgents in the country's restive northwest.

He had also commanded troops for the UN mission to Sierra Leone in 2001-2002 and was appointed as an adviser on peacekeeping operations by the world body last year.

Taj, a distant relative of Musharraf, has been transferred to head the Gujranwala-based 30 Corps.

He was appointed as head of the ISI in September last year, shortly before Musharraf stepped down as Army Chief.

The US had been pressing Pakistan hard to replace Taj as late as Sunday night.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly met CIA Director Michael Hayden this weekend in New York.

What they discussed specifically is unclear but Hayden reportedly provided Gilani with a proposal for "ISI reform" in July, media reports said.