The Pakistan government on Tuesday claimed that there were no differences between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the powerful Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa over the appointment of the new chief of the spy agency ISI.
The Pakistan Army last week announced that Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum was appointed as the new Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in place of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who was appointed as Peshawar Corps Commander.
However, the notification of Anjum’s appointment has not been issued by the office of Prime Minister Khan, giving credence to rumours about differences between the civilian government and the army over the key appointment.
As per law, the Prime Minister has the legal right and prerogative to appoint the ISI chief in consultation with the Army chief.
Despite speculation on social media over the delay in issuance of the notification, the government kept silent on the issue until Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressed the matter during a press conference after the meeting of the Cabinet.
He said that Prime Minister Khan and Army chief Bajwa had a “long sitting” last night to discuss the matter of the ISI chief and the premier had subsequently taken the Cabinet into confidence over the issue.
“The legal procedure will be followed in the appointment of the new DG ISI, for which both (Gen Bajwa and Prime Minister Khan] are in agreement,” he said.
Chaudhry also said that the premier and the military leadership were in close coordination. “Both (PM Khan and Gen Bajwa) are in agreement over this and the prime minister has the authority over it,” he said.
The minister rejected the rumours regarding differences between the civilian and military leadership on the matter.
“I see on social media, there are many who have wishes; I want to tell them that the Prime Minister’s Office will never undermine the respect of the Pakistan Army and army chief. And the COAS and the army will never take any step that will undermine the respect of Pakistan’s prime minister or civil setup,” he said.
Meanwhile, Geo News, quoting sources, reported that the prime minister Khan took the Cabinet members into confidence over the issue.
They said that the premier told them that there have been attempts to give the matter the wrong spin on the media.
Khan assured the Cabinet that all the people concerned “are on the same page” and that the appointment will be finalised “amicably”, the report said.
The ISI chief legally is answerable to the Prime Minister who is the legal appointing authority.
However, due to Pakistan’s peculiar history of army’s dominance, the ISI chief is also considered very close to the army chief whose blessings are key for the appointment to this sensitive post.
The post of ISI chief is considered one of the most important in the Pakistan Army, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence and has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.