Islamabad, May 14 : Conflicting accounts emerged today of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's response to ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha's offer to quit during an in-camera session of Parliament over the “intelligence failure” in detecting Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan.
An emotional Pasha, the Director General of the ISI, “surrendered” himself to Parliament during a joint session of the Senate and National Assembly that was convened yesterday for a briefing by the military on the May 2 US raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.
Pasha admitted to mistakes in the intelligence set-up's failure to detect bin Laden during the closed-door session and offered to resign if Parliament wanted him to do so, MPs were quoted as saying by the print media and TV channels.He said he would present himself “to the Prime Minister for any punishment” and then offered his resignation to Gilani, the media accounts said.
Gilani neither accepted nor openly declined Pasha's resignation, said a report on Time magazine's website. “He did offer to resign, but there was no reaction,” one parliamentarian told Time.However, a report in The News daily said Gilani turned down Pasha's offer to resign and asked him to continue serving the country.
The Nation, a right-wing newspaper that is known for its support for the military establishment, too reported that Gilani rejected the spy chief's offer to quit.“Keep on working,” Gilani was quoted as saying by The Nation.
Several reports in the print and electronic media said Pasha told the parliamentarians that he had decided to resign in the wake of the US raid against bin Laden and had even consulted his family about the move.
Pasha reportedly said that army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had stopped him from quitting. The in-camera session continued till early this morning, ending almost 11 hours after it began at 3 pm yesterday.
Despite a demand from the main opposition PML-N to open up the session to the media, the House Business Advisory Committee decided that journalists would be kept out of Parliament.Using information leaked by lawmakers, TV channels began flashing the key developments of the session late last night.
The ISI chief was subjected to fierce questioning and rare criticism by the parliamentarians.Reports said there were cries of “Shame! Shame!” when a woman lawmaker from the PML-N accused the ISI of meddling in politics.
There were also flashes of humour during the session.Senior PML-N leader Javed Hashmi, who was jailed for five years on trumped up charges by the regime of former President Pervez Musharraf, reportedly referred to the military and told Pasha: “You have retained many important responsibilities. Why not pass on some of them to us?”Powerful army chief Kayani attended the session but reportedly did not address the lawmakers.
He stayed in the House during the briefing by senior military officials on the US raid and its fallout but left during the question-and-answer session that followed. PTI