Pakistan’s top intelligence official has admitted his organization’s failure with respect to the presence of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the country, according to Geo News of Pakistan.
Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), appeared before a session of Parliament in Islamabad on Friday to discuss the killing of bin Laden and its impact on his agency.
Bin Laden was found living in a compound in Abbottabad, a small garrison near the capital Islamabad where he was killed by an elite team of US Navy SEALs.
“The ISI chief said he ‘surrenders’ himself before the parliament,” according to Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information Firdaus Ashiq Awan.“The [Director General] has accepted responsibility of the [Abbottabad] incident and is ready to present himself for accountability on any forum including the Parliament.”
The Pakistani army is also meeting with Parliament to discuss both bin Laden’s presence in the country and the military’s failure to be aware of the US commando strike on the al-Qaeda boss.
The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about of its 63 years of existence, is under unprecedented criticism from the public, media and politicians.
“The Abbottabad incident has become a big national issue,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, according to Bloomberg.
“The army stands embarrassed and exposed and it needs some sort of political cover.”
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, one of the leading opposition figures, has openly condemned the Pakistan military.
“These intelligence agencies which keep following politicians and their activities, play political chess games day and night, couldn’t find Osama a few 100 meters away from the Kakul academy,” he said. “This has humiliated Pakistan.”
However, the army remains an almost omnipresent power in Pakistan.
Bloomberg reported that the army, which comprises 600,000 soldiers and has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, dominates national security and foreign policy. Moreover, it has never been accountable to the government and its annual budget eats up about 16 percent of national spending.
Even if Pakistan’s military and intelligence officials admit to failures related to the bin Laden operation, it is doubtful they will cede any power at all to civilian rulers.