Traditional for PM to meet candidates for spymaster’s job, says Fawad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry Thursday said it was a tradition for the prime minister to meet candidates for appointments to key offices, including the spy chief.

The statement came a day after consultation between Imran Khan and the army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, for the appointment of the new boss of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

He reiterated the assurance Thursday in a tweet wherein he said the process “will be completed soon”.

“The game that a specific section wanted to play on [the matter] has been defeated. Now, it is being said that the prime minister will hold interviews for the new DG ISI. A meeting before such appointments is conventional,” he said. “Making this process controversial is highly inappropriate.”

Separately, while speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, the minister said the situation was “fine, Alhamdulillah [praise be to God]”.

“Everyone, at the turn of every hour, is attempting to twist the matter to attract some attention,” he said, without elaborating.

The military last week announced the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, a seasoned soldier who has battled hardened 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, Khan informed his cabinet he had told Gen Bajwa that he wanted Lt Gen Hameed to continue for some time due to the critical security situation in Afghanistan.

Later that day, 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.

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