Government confirms ‘issues’ with ISPR notification; says P.M. Khan wanted to retain incumbent due to Afghanistan situation
Nearly a week after the military’s media wing issued a notification announcing the new director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government on Tuesday admitted that there had been no consensus on the matter between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In a post-cabinet press briefing, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that Khan and Bajwa had met for a lengthy meeting on Monday night to discuss the stalemate. He said the prime minister had informed the Army chief that the authority to appoint the new spymaster rests with him, adding that this was why the Prime Minister’s Office had yet to notify the new ISI chief. This was the first time the government officially acknowledged the rift, which had been a matter of great debate on social media since Oct. 8—two days after the ISPR announcement.
On Oct. 6, the ISPR issued a notification announcing that Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum had been appointed the new ISI chief, replacing outgoing chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, who had been posted as Commander Peshawar Corps. Contrary to past appointments, however, the government failed to issue a notification verifying this posting, prompting rumors of a growing rift between the civilian and military powers in Pakistan.
Seeking to dismiss any perception of a civil-military rift, Fawad said the relationship between the prime minister and the Army chief was “ideal” but legal processes needed to be followed for the appointment of the ISI chief, which was the premier’s prerogative. “The authority to appoint DG ISI rests with the prime minister,” he said, adding that neither the P.M., nor the Army chief would take any steps to undermine or disrespect the authority of their respective domains.
“The P.M. Office will never undermine the respect of Pakistan Army and the Army chief. And the COAS and the Army will never take any step that will undermine the respect of Pakistan’s prime minister or civil set-up,” said the information minister, reiterating that the situation had been “resolved” and the new appointment would be made through lawful procedure.
On Wednesday morning, in a posting on Twitter, he said consultations between the Army chief and the prime minister on the ISI chief’s appointment had been completed. “The process for the new appointment has begun,” he said, reiterating that this had “proven” that the country’s civilian and military leadership were united for the country’s stability.
Special Assistant to the P.M. on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar, on Tuesday night, said that the prime minister had wanted to retain incumbent ISI DG Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed for six more months in light of the situation in Afghanistan. He said the prime minister had briefed the cabinet on the situation, adding that Khan had said that if the Army was a respected institution, then so was the Prime Minister’s Office.
Admitting that there were some issues with the appointment process, he also acknowledged that some fault for the stalemate situation rested with the government. He said that the prime minister did not have any preferred candidate in mind, and his objection was solely to due procedure not being followed.