Pakistan's New Spy Chief

In the wake of Mumbai's carnage, India handed Islamabad a list of 20 terrorists suspected to be hiding in Pakistan—including one who had phone contact with the gunmen during their attack. Now the nearly impossible role of orchestrating the arrests will likely fall to one man: Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the new head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.

A known moderate, Pasha spent the past three years leading scorched-earth offensives against extremists as head of the Army's military-ops command. Ideologically, he's "totally against" jihadists like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), thought to be behind Mumbai, says retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Talat Masood.

Now Pasha will have to appease Pakistan's leaders (under heavy international pressure to comply) while easing tensions with top Army brass, who think the politicians are kowtowing to India and who have threatened to redirect 100,000 troops from the extremist-plagued Afghan border to Kashmir if India gets too aggressive. Pasha must also root out sympathizers in his own organization, which has historical ties to LeT and has been suspected of covertly supporting the extremists.

It's a thin line to walk: Pasha must keep distant from the U.S. and India, but also make cooperative gestures. But is the new spy chief—and his country as a whole—up to the task? Pasha may be, but he doesn't have a free hand to act, because of the civilian-military divide. "Left to himself, he may be more proactive," says Masood. "But he has to tread carefully."