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Wednesday May 22, 2024

How army reacted when IK made ISI DG appointment controversial

By Umar Cheema
September 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan Army’s reaction to Imran Khan’s controversial statement regarding army chief’s appointment is public now, how the army chief had reacted in October last year on the issue of ISI DG’s appointment has remained a secret known to a few individuals.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa had hinted at resigning in reaction to Khan’s backing out from his earlier decision of letting the army chief to carry out the change of guard in the premier intelligence agency, a well-placed source who was witness to this development told The News. Gen Bajwa’s decision stirred panic in the government circle since his resignation would have resulted in premature changes which Khan didn’t want.

The story dates back to October 6 last year. After consultation with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Gen Bajwa notified the transfer of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to Peshawar, among other transfers and postings of corps commanders. A message followed from the PM Office to the army chief which suggested that Khan was satisfied with the decision and left the office (that day) on a happy note. Later in the day, the ISPR announced the appointment of new ISI DG, Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum.

Next day, Khan changed his mind and conveyed that he would not let Faiz relinquish the charge. This was quite upsetting for Gen Bajwa that Khan first granted consent and later backed out as this would reverse the entire course of transfers and postings which had already been announced. The army chief called Azam Khan, the principal secretary to PM Khan, to convey that he was resigning and this call was meant to convey the intention.

This raised alarms in the government circle as Khan didn’t want Gen Bajwa to leave at that point of time keeping in view his scheme of things under which he needed almost a year to bring in the seniority list his favorite candidate at a place where he could be considered to succeed the incumbent chief. Cabinet members held several meetings with Gen. Bajwa in order to persuade him to change his mind.

It took them five days to calm down the situation and a meeting was arranged between Khan and Gen Bajwa at the former’s residence in Bani Gala. Khan sought face-saving to amend his stance. It was in light of that understanding that Khan interviewed three candidates for the ISI chief’s position but eventually picked the one who was already announced by the ISPR.

A source privy to the matter said that Lt Gen Faiz was keen to head a corps for a year because doing that was mandatory for the candidates considered for the slot of army chief. Gen Bajwa agreed to the request of Lt Gen Faiz and conveyed that to PM Khan for the first time in March 2021 who dilly dallied for more than six months. At one point, Khan suggested the change in rules to exempt the requirement of heading a corps. Gen Bajwa had refused to make any such amendment.