The Washington Post reports on Saturday May 10, 2008 that the Army officer named in March as the military's chief liaison to Pakistan has been pulled from that assignment partly because of controversy in that country over his past command of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hood's initial selection, meant to boost cooperation on counter-terrorism issues, drew quick criticism from Pakistani politicians and news organisations. "It is a slap on the face of Pakistan and its 160 million people." Fazlur Rahman, a Pakistani religious party leader, said on television, "Hood is a notorious person, who had inflicted mental torture on Muslims by confirmedly desecrating six times against the Holy Koran." Last week, a newspaper in Pakistan, called the appointment "unfortunate" and asked, "What is the message coming out of the Pentagon for Pakistanis by this insensitive act?" But another military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity, said Pakistani opposition "certainly has to be part of the calculus" adding: "You'd have to be crazy not to read the Pakistan media and understand the Pakistani sentiment against the appointment." Still, the official emphasised that the Pakistani government did not have a say in the appointment. "This is a US decision" the official said, "so it should not be characterised as the Pakistan government vetoed this. They don't have that authority." "The truth is, it is a forced decision of the only superpower and this is due to the powerful media of Pakistan, which exposed Hood to the full extent. There are a lot of lessons for local leaders, who want to curtail the role of independent media as well as judiciary, to relent. -MIR TABASSUM MAIRAJ, Islamabad, via e-mail, May 16.