The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan responsible for national security. Thus, the role of who would head the agency has gained importance particularly after the rapidly evolving situation in neigbouring Afghanistan.
An impasse has been reported in civil-military leadership over the appointment of the new chief. The prime minister and army chief had lengthy discussions regarding the names for the powerful slot. According to reports, the prime minister wants the incumbent ISI chief Gen Faiz Hamid to continue, particularly due to the current situation in Afghanistan. These matters were disclosed by the PTI’s chief whip Amir Dogar but he too has been issued a notice for his comments.
The crisis was brought to light when the notification of the military shuffle was delayed. We eventually learned from Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry there was a rift over the appointment, but it will not hamper civil-military ties which were ideal and posed no threat to the government. He then said that consultation on the new appointment between the prime minister and army chief had concluded. A summary with three names was subsequently sent to the PM’s House but the notification has yet to be released, raising even further questions.
The impasse over the appointment seems to be rather unnecessary and could have been avoided. There is no clear procedure for the appointment of the DG ISI. It is generally considered to be the prerogative of the prime minister but the army chief has a significant role in transferring and posting army officials. Whatever the process is, it should be followed or it will create an unnecessary controversy.
Any shuffle in the Pakistan Army’s top brass is the subject of intense debate in political circles. The recent changes already raised speculation on who could be the next army chief. The army is an organised institution which can handle the challenges faced by the nation. It is necessary to shift from focusing on the individual and on the institution. This is necessary so that that armed forces are not dragged into political controversies and our enemies are not given an opportunity.