ISLAMABAD - The book by Raymond Davis has opened a can of worms. It has resulted in political and personal point scoring and institutional sniping. Much of the initial reaction here has been about the role of ISI and, more specifically, about Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha (retd). The former spy chief is being criticized, especially on the social media, for orchestrating and micromanaging a deal with the Americans that saw the release of Davis from a prison in Lahore.

Gen Pasha was a spy chief different from most of his predecessors. Unlike some former ISI chiefs, Gen Pasha came with no prior experience in intelligence, be it in the ISI or MI. He was catapulted to the powerful DG I position from that of Director General Military Operations (DGMO). He had no mystery about him. And, Gen Pasha did not try to cultivate the air of mystique, inaccessibility or authority exerted through behind-the-scene maneuvering. He came out in the open and in the process overexposed himself. His interactions with politicians and journalists were far more than his predecessors and far more publicly reported.

While eloquence was one of his strengths, he was prone to sudden oscillations between emotional outbursts and steely threats. His engagements and conversations usually had one consistent theme: civilians were neither patriotic nor capable – and, worse of all, they were corrupt and easy sellouts.

The revelation that the steely Gen Pasha, who took no time to steamroll the locals, had a different attitude with the Americans is bound to rankle those who have suffered his wrong side. Many critics have expressed shock over the disclosure about the role of Gen Pasha, and small details like how he texted the Americans with regular updates.

But blaming Gen Pasha to be solely responsible for having cut a deal with the Americans is misplaced. Gen Pasha did not work independently of his boss Gen Kayani. There is a very revealing US diplomatic cable in Wikileaks in which an American diplomat notes how both generals appeared to work in tandem. While Gen Kayani would maintain his quiet posture, Gen. Pasha was “usually more emotional” than the army chief.

The decision to release Raymond Davis had the approval of Gen Kayani and the military as an institution. The civilians were on board though they did not really have much say in the mechanics of the release. It is, therefore, a bit strange that Gen Pasha is now apparently claiming – through the vessel of Lt Gen Amjad Shoaib (retd) – that the decision was taken only after and due to the civilian consensus and he was acting merely as an enforcer.

The good old’ general should take responsibility. If the decision to release Davis was taken in the interest of the state and the greater regional geostrategic situation, it must be presented that way.

The account by Raymond Davis is certainly heavily slanted and self-serving; on many occasions condescending and demeaning to not only the military but also to the Pakistani people. Some people are suggesting that the timing of the book is rooted in a psyops campaign and point to the sudden, free of cost proliferation of the book within the country as proof. While it may or may not be true, the book does throw a spotlight on the relations between Pakistan and United States and the interactions of officials. It is an American lens through which the country is being viewed and presented. The book should be read in that particular context. The military will not gain much if it dismisses the book as just propaganda and an excuse to lambast the civilians further. The civilians are also off the mark when they rail against Gen Pasha for a deal that was, in essence, expedient for both countries