Islamabad, May 15: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha told the joint parliamentary session that CIA contractor and killer of two Pakistanis Raymond Davis was handed over to the US on orders of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, a PML-N MP quoted the chief spymaster as saying, reports the News, Islamabad..
When contacted by The News, Senator Mushahidullah said Gen Pasha stated: “We advised the government to resolve the issue. But we did what we were finally asked by the president and the prime minister to do.”
The issue of Raymond Davis figured when Pasha faced critical inquires from the PPP's Fauzia Wahab besides the PML-N's Mushahidullah and Anusha Rehman.
“Pasha initially tried to evade the questions but later said the ISI has acted on the advice of the prime minister and the president,” confirmed another MNA. He left untouched the questions like who paid the blood money, where the deal was done and the present whereabouts of the families, thereby confirming the suspicions already lingering in the mind of the public and politicians.
Senator Mushahidullah recounted several relevant and revolutionary couplets from the works of different poets including Habib Jalib and others to buttress his arguments. He asked: Who paid the blood money (Diyat); where are its recipients and how was Davis sent out of Pakistan when his passport is still with the Punjab government? He said when no response came to his question, he repeated it and ultimately got the reply.
He said that as the ISI chief has talked about forging unity in the nation at this point of time on the Abbottabad episode, there would be instant matchless national harmony and cohesion, more than that of the 1965 war, if just two announcements are made: one, Gen Pasha should declare that from now onward his agency would not make or break political parties, or create favourites in any political force by taking certain politicians to its safe houses; second, the Army chief or the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on his behalf should announce that the military would never destabilise the democratic system or impose martial law.
Responding to this, Lt-Gen Pasha, according to Mushahidullah, said: “On our own, we have decided to stay away from politics; and when I meet the Army chief, he too says there will be no derailing of the democratic system.”
The senator said in his remarks that it was a pity that the colonel and the major who tortured Makhdoom Javed Hashmi in the Sarwar Road Lahore police station served in the Army later as well and one of them recently retired as general.
Gen Shuja Pasha raised many eyebrows when he disclosed that there was not a single written Pak-US agreement over counter-terrorism operations inside the country starting from drone strikes to providing logistic facilities and joint operations.
He, therefore, stressed on the government to put in writing the degree of cooperation and the extent of operations to be carried out jointly or single-handedly in Pakistan.
Pasha also apprised the parliamentarians of the backlash of the ongoing Afghan war on Pakistan that, he said, would continue suffering for another five to 10 years.
As he spoke on the question of slippage of al-Qaeda leadership into Pakistan after 9/11, the ISI chief argued they could have been sorted out inside Afghanistan had the US shared information with the Pakistani authorities but this was not done despite repeated requests.
Background interviews with different lawmakers revealed the briefing went well after a bumpy start as Pasha's opening remarks offended parliamentarians, in particular the PML-N, as they were said to be ‘couched in taunts and showed arrogance'.
The ISI DG, for example, opened his speech complaining about the indifference of the political class towards the sacrifices the spy agency had rendered in the war against terrorism after losing 86 officials whose families were now being looked after by the agency. As he said this, many lawmakers raised their hands to affirm that they had either met the families or spoke to the ISI officials regarding them.
Senator Pervez Rashid intervened, pointing towards Pasha's speech terming it ‘political', and saying they still have many questions to answer but that the spy chief must remain focused to the point for which he has been summoned. Opposition leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan and Tehmina Daultana echoed the same line, thereby putting Pasha and his supporters on the defensive.
According to insiders, Pasha spoke at length answering several key questions. Among them were the reported Pak-US agreements on drone strikes, unilateral strikes inside Pakistan in hunt for high-value targets, logistic facilities to Americans and granting them permission to operate inside Pakistan.
There have been many reports in the western media indicating that Pakistan had agreed on unilateral strikes, like the Osama bin Laden operation, drone strikes and the use of Pakistani bases by the Americans. A denial of these reports by the spy chief before the joint sitting of parliament was considered highly significant.