Appointment of new spymaster ‘underway’: minister

ISLAMABAD: The consultation between the prime minister and the army chief on the appointment of the new boss of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency “has been completed”, and the process of a fresh appointment “is underway”, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced Wednesday.

The military last week announced the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, a seasoned soldier who has battled militants, as director-general of the spy agency, replacing Lt Gen Faiz Hameed who was appointed commander of the XI Corps stationed in Peshawar.

The appointment of the spy chief is the prerogative of the prime minister. However, per standard practice, the prime minister makes the choice in consultation with the army chief.

However, despite the passage of days following the Inter-Services Public Relations’ announcement, the notification confirming the appointment was not issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, leading to feverish speculation.

In a surprising development on Tuesday, Imran Khan informed his cabinet he had told Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa that he wanted Lt Gen Hameed to continue for some time due to the critical security situation in Afghanistan.

Later, addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Chaudhry said the authority to appoint the spymaster “lies with the prime minister”. He added the set procedure would be followed for the purpose for which both [Gen Bajwa and Khan] were in agreement.

Khan and Gen Bajwa held a long meeting late Monday night to discuss the matter and the prime minister had subsequently taken the cabinet into confidence over the issue, Chaudhry revealed.

The minister today announced the consultations between the two “have been completed” and the “process for the new appointment has begun”.

“The civil-military leadership has once again proven that all institutions are united for the country’s stability, integrity and progress,” he tweeted.

Alluding to rumours of a civil-military strife, Chaudhry had Tuesday assured the PMO will never undermine the respect of the military or its boss.

He said Gen Bajwa and his institution would also never take any measure that will undermine the respect of the prime minister or the government.

He stressed both the prime minister and the military leadership were in close coordination, and the appointment would be made after fulfilling all the legal requirements. He said the two were in agreement over this and other matters and Khan reserved the final authority.

Chaudhry also appreciated the media for not “sensationalising” the matter of the appointment.

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