Islamabad, May 6: Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha may step down in the wake of widespread criticism of the Pakistani establishment over US special forces killing Osama bin Laden near a key military facility in the garrison city of Abbottabad, according to a media report today.
Pasha may quit as the Pakistan government "looks for a fall guy for the bin Laden debacle", unnamed senior officials were quoted as saying by 'The Daily Beast', a news website affiliated to Newsweek magazine.
The senior officials said "they recognise that an important head has to roll and soon" to allay domestic and international anger over bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad, located close to the federal capital of Islamabad.
The officials said the "most likely candidate to be the fall guy is Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha".
They said it was "nearly a done deal". Pakistani analysts with close connections to the military agreed."It would make a lot of sense...It's in his (Pasha's) personal and the national interest to take the heat off," said Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood, one of Pakistan's leading defence analysts.
An official statement issued yesterday after a meeting of Corps Commanders chaired by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the military admitted its "own shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan".
It added that "an investigation has been ordered into the circumstances that led to this situation".
The Daily Beast reported that Pakistanis were furious that the ISI and the powerful military, which control national security policy, "could have been so incompetent not to know that the al Qaeda leader was comfortably holed up in Abbottabadd", only 80 km north of Islamabad.
"Never before have the military and the ISI come under such criticism," said Masood.
People are angry that the military, which gets the lion's share of the budget, could be totally unaware that US helicopters had violated Pakistani airspace during the raid that killed bin Laden on Monday.
Pakistani officials, both from the civilian government and the military, have said the US did not inform them about the raid.
"People are outraged...They see this as the fault of the military in which they have invested so much trust," Masood was quoted as saying.
However, a senior ISI officer told The Daily Beast he could not confirm the report and he had no knowledge of Pasha being "pressured into resigning". PTI