Pakistan PM Imran Khan blinks; approves appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as ISI chief

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday approved the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the new chief of Pakistan‘s spy agency ISI, apparently succumbing to pressure from the powerful Army over the key post after nearly three weeks of deadlock over the key post.

The army on October 6 announced Lt Gen Anjum replacing Lt Gen Faiz Hameed as the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI but the Prime Minister’s Office withheld the official notification, saying that the civilian government was not properly consulted.

However, the issue was resolved after a meeting of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Khan on Tuesday, according to a statement by the PMO.

“The meeting was part of the ongoing consultation process between the Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff about the timing of change of command in ISI and selection of the new DG (Director General) ISI,” it said.

It further stated that during this process of appointment a list of officers was received from the ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister interviewed all the nominees.

“A final round of consultation was held between the Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff today. After this detailed consultative process, the name of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum was approved as new DG ISI,” it said.

The designated ISI chief shall assume charge on 20th November, according to the statement.

The delay in the approval of Anjum’s appointment by Prime Minister Khan sparked rumours that the civil and military leadership was “not on the same page” vis-a-vis the issue. The government also confirmed that “proper procedure” was not followed for the appointment of the coveted post, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

Last week, Khan pledged to establish an exemplary rule of law in Pakistan where even a general would get promotion on the basis of performance, in an apparent reference to the tiff between the government and the Army over the appointment of the ISI chief.

The ISI chief is appointed by the prime minister but as part of a tradition he executes this power in consultation with the Pakistan Army chief.

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.

Lt Gen Anjum, who belongs to the Punjab Regiment of the Pakistan Army, has served as Karachi Corps Commander as well as the commandant of Command and Staff College Quetta.

He is considered as a battle-hardened soldier who commanded the Frontier Corps Balochistan as its Inspector General and oversaw many operations against terrorists.

Media reports said that his subordinates call him the “man with glacier brain but sharp reflexes”. He is stated to be a good listener and good observer who speaks concisely.

Earlier, the PMO delayed the process to issue the notification and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister to appoint the spy chief.

The delay created an impression that the bonhomie between the civilian government and the powerful army was over. However, the issue has been resolved, apparently.