isi: Imran Khan-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa fight over ISI chief refuses to die down

The controversy over appointment of new ISI chief is refusing to die down with Pakistan PM Imran Khan insisting on continuing with Lt Gen Faiz Hameed who has been transferred out by the army chief as Corps Commander of Peshawar.

Khan on Tuesday told his cabinet he had told Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa he wanted Lt Gen Hameed to continue as ISI director general for some time due to the critical situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, ET has reliably gathered.

Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief whip Amir Dogar, told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that Khan and Bajwa held a detailed meeting late Monday night on the matter. Asked what the constitutional and legal procedure was to appoint DG ISI, Dogar said that a summary had to be sent to the prime minister with three names out of which he selected one whom he deemed fit for the office. However, he said he did not know whether the summary would be issued by the relevant office by Wednesday or not, according to a report in Pakistan’s leading English daily The Dawn.

Dogar said that both the PM and the military leadership were in close coordination, and the DG ISI would be appointed after fulfilling all legal requirements. “Both (PM Khan and Gen Bajwa) are in agreement over this and the prime minister has the authority over it,” he said, according to the Dawn report.

The Khan-Bajwa meeting was also confirmed by Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry during his presser after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Reports about lack of consensus between Pakistan’s civil and military leadership over the matter have made headlines in Pakistan for the past one week with Khan allegedly refusing to accept appointment of new ISI chief due to his strong ties with Hameed. Pak watchers told ET that Khan has strong backing of Hameed, whose tenure otherwise has been controversial including his public appearance at Kabul following Taliban takeover. Last time a Pak PM (Benazir Bhutto) appointed an ISI chief of her choice, she was removed in a military coup.

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

Last week, the military’s media affairs wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) 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 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 intense speculations. Pakistan watchers here told ET that the controversy over then appointment of ISI Chief was caused by the delay in the notification by the Pak PMO.

“No PM in Pakistan can go against the Pak Army. Lt Gen Faiz is now Peshawar Corps Commander- a position, which is considered very significant in the Pak Army and in a sense, it can be considered a promotion. Moreover, he would still be playing a crucial role in Afghanistan. The new ISI Chief Lt Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum has dealt with Balochis and is considered a battle-hardened soldier. His role can be crucial in Afghanistan in the present juncture,” a source explained.

This controversy could have been deliberately created to project that Khan could assert on such issues, according to Dr SD Pradhan, former India deputy NSA. “The recent statement of Pak Information Minister Fawad Chaudhury made it clear when he said that the authority to appoint ISI Chief lies with the Pak government and it will be done after due diligence,” explained Dr Pradhan. It is no secret that an ISI chief plays a huge role in both domestic and external policies of Pakistan.

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