New Pakistan spy chief appointed – by the former spy chief. Isn’t that reassuring?

Gen Ashfaq Kayani – the guy who counts

Lt Gen Ahmed Shujaa Pasha is a former head of military operations who launched recent offensives against militants near the Afghan border. He takes over ISI amid mounting US pressure on Pakistan to do more to combat the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

Pakistani observers say the move appears to be an effort by army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani – who was himself ISI chief until a year ago – to consolidate his control over the military

Gen Pasha replaces Lt Gen Nadeem Taj, a loyalist of former President Pervez Musharraf who was appointed less than a year ago.

Gen Kayani has also changed four of nine corps commanders and named a new chief of the general staff.

The ISI had a key role in funding the Afghan mujahideen and critics say some of its agents still play a double game, viewing certain militant groups as assets to use in Afghanistan and in the dispute with India over Kashmir.

Gen Pasha’s appointment also comes after a major stand-off between the Pakistani government and the army chief, who resisted attempts to put the ISI under civilian control.

If the military isn’t under civilian control, it’s not under control.

Does the Pakistan government have enough popular support to control the military? Not according to history. For half the life of independence from Imperial England, one or another military dictator has ruled the roost. Generally, with a complicit foreign power.

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