Pakistan’s new army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa today abruptly removed the head of the country’s spy agency ISI and made several other significant changes in the army’s top brass, as part of a major reshuffle.
Gen Bajwa, who took over from Gen Raheel Sharif two weeks ago, appointed Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as Director-Genereal of the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, the army said in a statement.
Lt Gen Akhtar, who was at the centre of controversy following a Dawn newspaper report which said that Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif-led government had told the army to either act against terrorists or face international diplomatic isolation.
The new ISI chief Lt Gen Mukhtar possess a vast experience in the field of intelligence and has headed the counter- terrorism wing of the spy agency in Islamabad. He was commissioned in the Armoured Corps regiment in 1983.
A graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta, National Defence University Islamabad and War Course USA, Lt Gen Mukhtar had also commanded a Mechanised Division.
According to the statement, the newly-promoted Lt Gen Bilal Akbar has been appointed Chief of General Staff while Lt Gen Nazir Butt – presently President of the NDU – has been appointed Corps Commander Peshawar (11 Corps), replacing Lt Gen Hidayat-ur Rehman, who was appointed Inspector-General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at General Headquarters (GHQ).
The appointments are seen as a move by the new army chief Gen Bajwa to put in place a ‘new team’ after he took charge on November 29 as the 16th Chief of Army Staff.
A career infantry officer belonging to the Baloch Regiment, Gen Bajwa is said to have extensive experience of handling affairs in Kashmir and northern areas of Pakistan.
Amont other changes he undertook today, Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, presently heading army’s media wing, has been appointed Inspector-General Arms (IG Arms) at GHQ.
The newly-promoted Lt Gen Hamayun Aziz has been appointed Inspector General C&IT at GHQ, while Lt Gen Qazi Ikram has been appointed Chief of Logistic Staff at GHQ.
Lt Gen Sher Afgun has been posted 31 Corps Commander which is based in Bahawalpur near the Indian border, while newly Promoted Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal will continue as DG FWO and Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf has been appointed Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).
The new army chief has not announced the names of incoming heads of ISPR and Rangers in Sindh. Officials said he might consult the political leadership before making “politically sensitive appointments.”