DG ISI issue to get settled by Friday: Sheikh Rashid

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

18th Oct, 2021. 04:36 pm
sheikh rashid

Govt to initiate talks with TLP as its protest enters second day. Image: File

LAHORE: An unprecedented impasse between military and civilian leadership over the appointment of new Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general which has been a major point of discussion in the political circles and has made headlines since October 6, is likely to be settled before Friday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has claimed.

Speaking to a private TV channel, the Interior Minister said the issue has been amicably settled between the civil and military leadership of the country and “now the appointment of the new ISI chief will be made before next Friday.”

Asked about the reasons behind the delay of the DG ISI appointment, the interior minister said he was aware of the reasons but could not make them public as only Prime Minister Imran Khan could apprise people on the matter.

Earlier, on October 6, the military’s media wing — Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — had announced several key appointments including that of Commander Karachi Corps Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as the new DG ISI in place of Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid who was /*85/820named as the new Commander Peshawar Corps.

After this announcement, the PM office didn’t issue the notification of appointment of new spymaster citing some “technical and procedural” issues. From there an unprecedented crisis started and became a public debate which never happened in the past.

There was also a news that the premier wanted to conduct interviews of three generals named in the panel before he would give nod a name for the appointment of ISI chief.

On the other hand, the stand-off between the civilian and military leadership over the appointment has also brought the army’s routine postings, announced by ISPR on Oct 6, to a standstill.

Since the prime minister has not signed the notification for Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum to take charge as DG ISI, the three-star general has not relinquished charge as corps commander Karachi. Lt Gen Muhammad Saeed, President National Defence University cannot take charge as corps commander Karachi and Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood cannot relinquish charge as corps commander Peshawar to join as president NDU because Lt Gen Faiz Hameed cannot relinquish charge as DG ISI to take over as corps commander Peshawar.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, responding to a question during the TV show, also rejected an impression that the delay was being made by the Prime Minister House due to some ‘spiritual and saintly’ reasons.

“It is totally absurd that the issue is being delayed intentionally due to intervention from some quarter. It is illogical that someone is casting a spell,” he added.

Interior Minister had further claimed that there were no differences between the civil and military leadership in the country and both sides were satisfied over what they had decided. “They [military authorities] will not retreat from their own procedure,” he added.

Meanwhile, addressing a public gathering in Faisalabad on Saturday, Maryam Nawaz, PML-N Vice President and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said that PM Imran Khan had not attacked the country’s top security institution [Army] but had conducted a suicide attack on them.

She further criticized the premier saying he [PM Khan] wanted to treat Army as Punjab police by appointing top generals at various places by his choices.

Similarly, leaders of other opposition parties have also come hard on the PTI government, criticizing the premier for creating an unnecessary delay in the appointment of new DG ISI, making the matter of national security a laughing stock.

Talking to Bol News, Let General (retd) Amjad Shoaib said the circus created by the government vis-a-vis the appointment of new ISI DG should end as the delay is not in the country’s interest.

“If there were some technical or procedural issues, they should have been addressed in 15 minutes, either by a meeting of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and PM Imran Khan, but it hasn’t been resolved yet.”

According to General Amjad, he had no idea about the differences both sides [Army and civilian leadership] have, if there are any. “This issue [appointment of ISI chief] shouldn’t have become a public debate.,” he lamented.

Talking about normal procedure, General Amjad Shoaib said usually a COAS visits the premier and verbally discusses a few names with him for the appointment of new ISI chief and after deliberation, a consensus name used to be announced for the coveted slot.

Gen Shoaib was of the view that in the past when Nawaz Sharif was PM he had also insisted to appoint General Ziauddin Butt as ISI chief due to which the differences between Nawaz Sharif and the then COAS General Pervez Musharraf had worsened.

The differences between civilian and military leadership over range of issues ultimately led to imposition of martial law in the country in 1999.

General Shoaib further told Bol News that there should be no politics in such matters of national security. Ït wouldn’t be good for the outgoing general as well as for the incoming general as the matter of appointment of ISI chief has been unnecessarily made into a controversy in public,” he said.