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December 12, 2016

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Major reshuffle in top brass

Chief of General Staff, DG ISI, DG ISPR, corps commanders Bahawalpur, Peshawar changed; Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar made DG ISI, Bilal Akbar CGS

ISLAMABAD: In a significant command and staff reshuffle in the Pakistan Army, the newly-promoted Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar has been appointed the Chief of General Staff (CGS) while Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar has been appointed as Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in place of Lt General Rizwan Akhtar.

Meanwhile, Major General Muhammad Saeed, GOC 18 Infantry Division, Hyderabad, has been posted as DG Rangers, Sindh.

Both Lt-Gen Bilal Akbar and Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar were serving in Karachi as DG Rangers and Corps Commander, Karachi, respectively and they have been moved to two most powerful positions.

It has been learnt that Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar was appointed DG ISI after approval from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa appointed the new CGS, a key position lying vacant since the elevation of General Zubair Hayat as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

DG ISI Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar has been transferred to the National Defence University (NDU) as its president.

Both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Bajwa see Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as a richly experienced top military officer to handle the ISI operations, both overt and covert in a way to serve as the first line of the country’s defence.

Sources said Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar is a fine soldier who showed his professional acumen while serving in Karachi as the corps commander. Now, he would be serving as the eyes and ears for the services chiefs as well as the prime minister. In the present scenario, it would be highly important to have an experienced soldier to head the ISI, keeping in view the external and internal threats. 

Following the appointment of new corps commanders in Karachi, Multan and Rawalpindi, Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa also appointed Lt-Gen Nazir Butt as Corps Commander, Peshawar, in place of Lt-Gen Hidayatur Rehman, who has been moved to fill in the position of Inspector-General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at the General Headquarters.

With both the superseded three-star generals – former Corps Commander Multan Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadim Ahmed and former Corps Commander Bahawalpur Lt-Gen Javed Ramday – retiring from the Pakistan Army on December 17, Army Chief General Bajwa has brought in his team which is almost visible now.

Military spokesman, DG ISPR Lt-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa has also been transferred as Inspector General Arms (IG Arms), a move which was on the cards. He was posted DG ISPR in June 2012 and promoted to Lt-Gen in September 2015. The army chief, however, has not made new appointment as DG ISPR and it is likely that a major general would be appointed as DG ISPR in the coming week.

In place of retiring Lt-Gen Javed Ramday, the newly-promoted Lt-Gen Sher Afgun has been appointed Corps Commander Bahawalpur. 

Lt Gen Bilal made a great success in bringing peace to Karachi where he was highly effective in dealing with lawbreakers, militant groups and flushed out hardcore criminals operating in the garb of political outfits. 

DG ISI Rizwan Akhtar has been transferred to the NDU.

Lt-Gen Nazir Butt, who had been the MS to a former prime minister and Defence Attache in the United States, was the ultimate pick as Corps Commander, Peshawar, as he had the experience of conducting operations in that area in the past.

Highly-capable Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman has been made the IGT&E at the GHQ and he would be there until his retirement, say military sources. 

The other postings and transfers announced by the ISPR are that of newly-promoted Lt-Gen Hamayun Aziz who has been appointed Inspector General C&IT at the GHQ; newly promoted Lt-Gen Qazi Ikram who has been appointed Chief of Logistic Staff at the GHQ; newly-promoted Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal will continue as DG FWO; and newly-promoted Lt-Gen Naeem Ashraf has been appointed Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT). 

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