Row over ISI chief appointment: Differences emerge between Pakistan PM and army chief ?

Pakistan's powerful army last week announced the appointment of Lt- General Nadeem Ahmad Anjum as the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s intelligence agency

Oct 13, 2021
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Lt- General Nadeem Ahmad Anjum

Pakistan's powerful army last week announced the appointment of Lt- General Nadeem Ahmad Anjum as the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s intelligence agency. However, no notification has been issued by the government regarding the appointment, fueling speculations of differences between the civilian and military leadership of the country. 

Legally, the prime minister has the right and prerogative to appoint the ISI chief in consultation with the army chief. However, the delay in confirmation from the Imran Khan government, indicating that the army and the government aren’t on the same page on the issue.

On Tuesday, PM Khan had held lengthy discussions with Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javad Bajwa, who is slated to retire in November next year, on the issues. After the meeting, the former briefed the Cabinet.

Downplaying the differences, Information and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhary said, “Both (PM Khan and General Bajwa) are in agreement over this and the prime minister has the authority over it.”

However, he further added, “The legal procedure will be followed in the appointment of the new DG ISI, for which both ( the prime minister and the army chief) are in agreement.” He rejected rumors of differences. 

“The Prime Minister’s Office will never undermine the respect of the Pakistan Army and army chief,” Fawad was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper, adding, “the COAS and the army will never take any step that will undermine the respect of Pakistan’s prime minister or civil setup.” 

According to some reports, Khan wanted the current ISI chief, Lt. General Faiz, to continue in the post, considering the sensitive and delicate situation in Afghanistan. The military, however, has a different perspective.

Lt General Faiz has been named commander of Peshawar Corps and he is already been suggested by many as the likely successor to current army chief Bajwa when he retires next year. 

For Prime Minister Khan, who is considered close to the military and has enjoyed excellent cooperation and coordination with the latter, the issue of the appointment of the intelligence chief emerged as the rare incident where the two seem to have divergent views, if certain sections of Pakistani is to be believed. 

(SAM)