Wednesday May 29, 2024

Average tenure of 22 ISI chiefs in 70 years has been 3.18 years

By Sabir Shah
October 12, 2018

The average tenure of 22 Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chiefs, since the powerful spy agency’s inception in 1948, has approximately been 3.18 years, research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” reveals.

However, an Australian-born Major General, Robert “Bill” Cawthome, remains the longest-serving Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency for over nine years from 1950 to 1959.

Robert Cawthome was once a British Army officer, who had later joined the Pakistan Army, which currently enjoys services of two full generals, 30 Lieutenant Generals (including the two sitting generals from the Medical Corps)and 167 Major Generals.

Here follows the list of all the 22 ISI Chiefs who have served on this powerful position since 1948:

Colonel (later Major General) Syed Shahid Hamid Shah (1948-50), Robert Cawthome (1950-59), Brigadier Riaz Hussain (1959-66), Mohammad Akbar Khan (1966-71), Ghulam Jillani Khan (1971–1977), Muhammad Riaz (1977–1979), Akhtar Abdur Rehman (1979-1987), Hameed Gul (1987-89), Shamsur Rehman Kallu (May 1989– August 1990), Asad Durrani (August 1990– March 1992), Javed Nasir (March 1992– May 1993), Javed Ashraf Qazi (May 1993– 1995), Naseem Rana (October 1995– October 1998), Ziaud Din Butt (October 1998– October 1999), Mahmud Ahmed (October 1999– October 2001), Ehsanul Haq (October 2001– October 2004), Ashfaque Parvez Kiyani (October 2004-October 2007), Nadeem Taj (October 2007-October 2008), Ahmad Shuja Pasha (October 2008– 19 March 2012), Zaheerul Islam (March 2012– November 2014), Rizwan Akhtar (November 2014-December 2016) and Naveed Mukhtar (December 2016-October 2018).

The new ISI boss, Lieutenant-General Syed Asim Munir Ahmed Shah, has, of course, been appointed very recently. He had previously served as the head of country’s Military Intelligence, besides having commanded the Pakistani forces in Gilgit-Baltistan.

With over 47 months of service left, the newly-appointed 23rd Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief, Lieutenant-General Syed Asim Munir, will retire on September 28, 2022 along with incumbent Military Secretary, Lt Gen Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Commander Central Command & 1 Corps, Mangla, Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj, Commander 11 Corps, Peshawar, Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood, Vice Chief of General Staff, Lt Gen Syed Muhammad Adnan and Inspector General Arms, Lt Gen Muhammad Waseem Ashraf.

The above-named Lieutenant Generals will be retiring just two months and 10 days after the sitting Quarter Master General, Lt. General Moazzam Ejaz, will hang his boots on July 18, 2022.

Research shows that Major General Robert Cawthome had laid down the basic principles of the ISI, together with a Pakistan Navy Commander, Syed Muhammad Ahsan, who is officially acknowledged to have played an integral part in managing the recruitment and expansion of this world class spy agency.

At that time, Syed Muhammad Ahsan was serving as Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.

Research further shows that a former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Lieutenant Colonel Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan (Later 3-Star general), had also served the ISI as General Staff Officer (GSO-1) in those days.

At the end of December 1952, Major-General Robert Cawthome, Director-General of the Inter-Service Intelligence, had sent a priority report to the Commander Ahsan, and asked for detailed reaction of Pakistan Armed Forces personnel for the Basic principles for the ISI.

This is what “Global Security.Org,” a leading American source of background information and developing news stories in the fields of defence, space, intelligence, Weapons of Mass Destruction and homeland security,

writes about the ISI’s early days:

“The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence was founded in 1948 by a British Army officer, Major General Robert Cawthome, the then Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army. Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan, had expanded the role of ISI in safeguarding Pakistan’s interests, monitoring opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan.”

The February 28, 2012 edition of a prestigious British newspaper “The Telegraph” had stated: “Colonel Syed Shahid Hamid was the first boss of the ISI. He was succeeded by Robert Cawthome, who was followed by Brigadier Hussain, whose rule began in 1959 and ended in 1966.”

The July 28, 2008 edition of “The Australian” had maintained: “The ISI dates back to 1948 when it was established as the brainchild of an Australian-born British Army officer, Major General Cawthome, the then deputy chief of staff in the Pakistan Army.”

Research further reveals that the first ISI boss, Lieutenant-Colonel Shahid Shahid Hamid, had conceived the idea of ISI on July 14, 1948. Later, he was promoted to 2-star rank of Major-General and was appointed as Director-General of the Military Intelligence by Major-General (R) Iskandar Mirza (later sworn in as the first President of Pakistan), who was serving as the Defence Secretary at that time.

However, Major General Shahid Hamid had left on June 20, 1950 to command the Peshawar Brigade, looking after the Khyber Pass and Landi Kotal etc, and Major-General Robert Cawthome was given the command of the agency.

The original ISI building was situated in Karachi on the Junction of Abdullah Haroon Road (Old Victoria Street) and Hidayatullah Road opposite Zainab Market.