ISLAMABAD - Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar has been appointed as the new chief to head the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the military said in a statement Sunday.

The announcement was made as Gen Bajwa, who took over the command of the Pakistani military last month, propped up his team – as per the standard practice of every new army chief – and made several key appointments.

Amongst those was the appointment of Lt Gen Bilal Akbar as the Chief of the General Staff. Lt Gen Akbar had just recently been promoted from a two star and was heading the paramilitary Rangers troops in Karachi. Lt Gen Akbar has been praised by the military circles for his actions against criminal gangs and armed groups of political parties. It was under Lt Gen Akbar that a raid was carried out at Nine Zero, the nerve centre of MQM in Pakistan.

New corps commanders of Peshawar and Bahawalpur were also announced. Lt Gen Nazir Butt, presently President NDU, has been appointed Corps Commander Peshawar (11Corps). While, newly promoted Lt Gen Sher Afgun has been posted 31 Corps Commander (Bahawalpur).

However, it is the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, which attracts the most attention, given the absolute, unfettered powers associated with the position.

The ISI chief theoretically reports to the prime minister but in reality takes directions from the army chief.

The ISI has often been dubbed “state within a state” and enjoys a certain mystique. But it has faced a barrage of criticism for its alleged meddling in the country’s politics, regional geopolitics and its control over several militant and shadowy groups.

Lt Gen Mukhtar, the new spymaster, was earlier serving as the corps commander Karachi, the sprawling and chaotic southern port city.

The world of spying and intelligence is, however, not new to Lt Gen Mukhtar, as he had earlier also served in the ISI as a major general, heading the counter-terrorism wing.

Interestingly, Lt Gen Mukhtar was also in the run to be the spy chief in 2014 when Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, the outgoing chief, was given the top slot.

Gen Akhtar will now lead National Defence University, the military said. Intriguingly, Gen Akhtar did not complete three years at the ISI, which has been a standard practice for most of former ISI chiefs.

Military sources said that Gen Akhtar himself wanted to move out of the ISI and wanted to command a corps, which is a pre-requisite to be in the run for the army chief. However, the new army chief has sent him to head the National Defence University in Islamabad.

Lt Gen Mukhtar was commissioned in Armoured Corps regiment in 1983. He is a graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta, National Defence University, Islamabad and War Course USA.

As a spy chief, he faces a multitude of challenges. Pakistan faces deteriorating relations with Afghanistan, which has accused the country’s’ spy agency of supporting Taliban. ISI denies the accusations. And, it remains to be seen what policies he adopts towards archrival India. In recent weeks, tensions have flared up with the eastern neighbour, and apart from fire exchange at the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, both countries have kicked out several diplomats accusing them of being spies.

Internally, ISI has been accused of undermining and weakening the civilian governments. And, such allegations have swirled whenever the country goes through a political crisis.

The Nation had reported earlier in October about the impending changes at the ISI and had reported that Lt Gen Mukhtar is most likely to replace Lt Gen Akhtar.

The other military appointments announced Sunday include: Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman as Inspector General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at GHQ; Newly promoted Lt Gen Hamayun Aziz has been appointed Inspector General C&IT at GHQ; Newly promoted Lt Gen Qazi Ikram has been appointed Chief of Logistic Staff at GHQ; Newly Promoted Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal will continue as DG FWO; Newly promoted Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf has been appointed Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).

Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, presently DG ISPR, has been appointed as Inspector General Arms (IG Arms) at GHQ. He was posted as DG ISPR in June 2012 and promoted Lt Gen in Sept 2015. To his credit, Lt Gen Bajwa turned around the ISPR as a slick media PR machine. Now, as IG Arms, he would head various directorates of combat arms, mostly for coordination, administration and equipment.

 

 

Mukhtar replaces Akhtar as ISI chief

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Lt Gen Mukhtar, the new spymaster, was earlier serving as the corps commander Karachi, the sprawling and chaotic southern port city.

The world of spying and intelligence is, however, not new to Lt Gen Mukhtar, as he had earlier also served in the ISI as a major general, heading the counter-terrorism wing.

Interestingly, Lt Gen Mukhtar was also in the run to be the spy chief in 2014 when Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, the outgoing chief, was given the top slot.

Gen Akhtar will now lead National Defence University, the military said. Intriguingly, Gen Akhtar did not complete three years at the ISI, which has been a standard practice for most of former ISI chiefs.

Military sources said that Gen Akhtar himself wanted to move out of the ISI and wanted to command a corps, which is a pre-requisite to be in the run for the army chief. However, the new army chief has sent him to head the National Defence University in Islamabad.

Lt Gen Mukhtar was commissioned in Armoured Corps regiment in 1983. He is a graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta, National Defence University, Islamabad and War Course USA.

As a spy chief, he faces a multitude of challenges. Pakistan faces deteriorating relations with Afghanistan, which has accused the country’s’ spy agency of supporting Taliban. ISI denies the accusations. And, it remains to be seen what policies he adopts towards archrival India. In recent weeks, tensions have flared up with the eastern neighbour, and apart from fire exchange at the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, both countries have kicked out several diplomats accusing them of being spies.

Internally, ISI has been accused of undermining and weakening the civilian governments. And, such allegations have swirled whenever the country goes through a political crisis.

The Nation had reported earlier in October about the impending changes at the ISI and had reported that Lt Gen Mukhtar is most likely to replace Lt Gen Akhtar.

The other military appointments announced Sunday include: Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman as Inspector General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at GHQ; Newly promoted Lt Gen Hamayun Aziz has been appointed Inspector General C&IT at GHQ; Newly promoted Lt Gen Qazi Ikram has been appointed Chief of Logistic Staff at GHQ; Newly Promoted Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal will continue as DG FWO; Newly promoted Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf has been appointed Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).

Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, presently DG ISPR, has been appointed as Inspector General Arms (IG Arms) at GHQ. He was posted as DG ISPR in June 2012 and promoted Lt Gen in Sept 2015. To his credit, Lt Gen Bajwa turned around the ISPR as a slick media PR machine. Now, as IG Arms, he would head various directorates of combat arms, mostly for coordination, administration and equipment.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Dec-2016 here.