Differences crop up over new ISI chief, Pak PM Imran Khan wants Lt Gen Hameed to stay

13-10-2021

Islamabad, Oct 13 (UNI) Within days of the announcement of a new chief for its spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), differences appear to have cropped up between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the all-powerful army establishment over the new appointment, with Imran Khan keen to continue with Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.

On Tuesday, Imran Khan was huddled with the chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to iron out differences over the appointment of Lt General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum.

Imran Khan on Tuesday informed the federal cabinet that he had told Gen Bajwa that he wanted Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to continue as ISI director general for some time citing the critical situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief whip in the National Assembly Amir Dogar told Dawn news agency that Imran Khan and Gen Bajwa held a detailed meeting late Monday night on the matter.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media on Tuesday that the issue of appointment of new ISI DG Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum had been resolved and that the PM enjoyed the authority to appoint the chief of the country’s premier spy agency in accordance with law and Constitution.

Last week, the military’s media affairs wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had announced that Lt Gen Anjum had been appointed the new ISI chief. Lt Gen Hameed, formerly the ISI director general, was posted as Peshawar corps commander.

However, despite the passage of days following the ISPR announcement, 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.

The government remained tight-lipped on the issue and finally broke its silence following a lengthy meeting between the prime minister and army chief.

The PTI’s chief whip Amir Dogar said the prime minister had told the cabinet that he was an elected prime minister and chief executive of the country.

Asked what the constitutional and legal procedure was to appoint DG ISI, Dogar explained that a summary had to be sent to the prime minister with three names out of which he selected one probable whom he deemed fit for the office.

Reports about lack of consensus between the civil and military leadership over the matter had been making rounds on social media for the last few days, but after it appeared on regular media on Tuesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was compelled to clarify the government’s point of view, Dawn reported.

“The prime minister has the authority to appoint the DG ISI and he held a detailed meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in this regard,” Mr Chaudhry told the press conference. “The federal government will follow a legal and constitutional procedure on the appointment of the Inter-Services Intelligence director general,” he said.

The minister categorically stated there would be no step taken from the PM Office or the military setup that “damaged the reputation of one another”.

He stressed that both the prime minister and the military leadership were in close coordination, and the DG ISI would be appointed after fulfilling all legal requirements.

Asked if his latest remarks indicated that last week’s announcement about Lt Gen Anjum’s appointment was made “without the prime minister’s approval”, the minister replied: “I have already answered this.”

At the moment, no notification has been issued for the appointment of the incoming ISI chief.

When Dawn asked him what had compelled him to say that the government would appoint the DG ISI according to the Constitution and law, Mr Chaudhry replied: “Confusion created by the media, especially social media, had forced him to respond on the matter.”

“I cannot comment further on the issue; just rely on my statement in the press conference,” he added.

The minister said there was close liaison between Pakistan’s military and political leadership, terming their relation ideal. “The legal procedure will be followed in the appointment of the new DG ISI, for which both (Gen Bajwa and Prime Minister Khan) are in agreement,” he added.

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.

According to experts in defence matters, the procedure for the appointment of the ISI director general is neither mentioned in the Constitution nor the Army Act, and all past appointments were made as per traditions under which the army chief proposes three names to the prime minister who then makes the final decision.

Reports circulating on social media claimed that the prime minister asserted in the cabinet meeting that a summary with names of probables should be sent to him for the appointment of ISI chief and it was his prerogative to select any of the three as DG ISI.