The change of command at the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has become a subject of intense media coverage and discussion. Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum will replace Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, as new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The change of command at the ISI is the single most consequential development in recent months. Given the nature of the country’s political situation, this change at the top of the agency is expected to spawn many major and minor ripples in critical areas.
Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, the Corps Commander, Karachi, was appointed as the Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Gen Anjum will replace Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who has been posted out as Commander of Peshawar-based Corps XI.
The appointment of the new ISI director general comes after days of intense speculation about the change at the country’s premier intelligence service. It is believed that the matter had been under consideration for some time, but was announced after the corps commanders meeting held.
However, despite the passage of days following the announcements by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a notification confirming Lt Gen Anjum’s appointment as the new DG ISI was not issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, leading to feverish speculation in the federal capital.
Why the change is important?
The timing of the change at the ISI, however, took many by surprise. It was generally believed that Gen Hameed would hold the position till April next year though he had completed his two-year tenure.
Gen Hameed’s tenure was marred by controversies both internal and external, which often kept the ISI under media spotlight. He had entered the office with the same perception about his personality, which dated back to his days at the ISI as head of internal security.
Some are looking at the change from the angle of the upcoming race for the next army chief in 2022. Gen Hameed, who would be one of the contenders, was yet to command a corps. Therefore, it is thought that he has been moved to a corps to meet that requirement for the four-star position.
Gen Hameed’s visit to Kabul on September 4, weeks after the Taliban takeover, had led to renewed allegations about Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
It is no secret that the agencies have been actively involved in political affairs in the past. Exactly 22 years ago today, civil-military relations were seriously strained due to which the then General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and took over the country.
The agencies also played a role in the events surrounding the issue of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s extension. They were also major players in handling matters relating to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. These are just a few of the numerous examples that portray how the agencies continue to shape and influence matters that are outside their official purview.
The appointment of ISI director general is a prerogative of the prime minister. The spymaster’s choice is, however, made by the prime minister in consultation with the army chief.
Is country’s leadership on same page?
A new tussle has erupted between the civilian and the military leadership over the appointment of the new DG ISI. However, the federal government has denied such reports.
On Tuesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa have “ideal” civil-military relations and they both never take any steps that could “undermine” each other’s respect.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan and military leadership are on the same page regarding the appointment of the new director-general ISI,” the information minister said while addressing a press conference.
The minister said the authority to appoint the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general “lies with the prime minister”, and that the set procedure would be followed for the purpose.
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