For the second time in a row, a senior Pakistan Army officer overseeing security in the financial hub of Karachi has been picked to run the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar was appointed chief of the powerful spy agency as part of the first major reshuffle of the army top brass by the new chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who took over the reins last month.
A military statement said Bajwa, who took over from Gen Raheel Sharif two weeks ago, had appointed Mukhtar as director general of the ISI, replacing Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, who was previously head of the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers in Karachi.
Lt. Gen Rizwan Akhtar is being moved to the post of president of the National Defence University.
The statement said the new ISI chief possesses vast experience in the field of intelligence and earlier headed the ISI’s counter-terrorism wing. He was commissioned in the Armoured Corps regiment in 1983.
A graduate of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, National Defence University, Islamabad, and War Course USA, Mukhtar also commanded a mechanised division.
Mukhtar had most recently been assigned as commander of the Karachi-based V Corps, a post he held for more than three years. He is known for his low profile and professional demeanour, according to those who have met him.
He was behind the army-led operation two years ago which led to an improvement in the law and order situation of Karachi, the country’s largest city.
Mukhtar was in the run to be chief of the ISI in 2014, when Akhtar was chosen for the spot. As the ISI chief, he has to handle the deteriorating relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan and India.
Local media reported that the outgoing ISI chief was removed after the controversy erupted following a report in the Dawn newspaper which said that the Nawaz Sharif government had told the army to either act against terrorists or the country would face international isolation.
Meanwhile, as part of other major changes in the army’s top brass, newly-promoted Lt Gen Bilal Akbar has been appointed Chief of General Staff while Lt Gen Nazir Butt — currently president of the NDU — has been appointed Corps Commander Peshawar (11 Corps), replacing Lt Gen Hidayat-ur Rehman. Rehman has been appointed Inspector-General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at General Headquarters (GHQ).
Among other changes Bajwa undertook on Sunday, Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, presently heading army’s media wing, has been appointed Inspector-General Arms (IG Arms) at GHQ.
Newly-promoted Lt Gen Hamayun Aziz was appointed Inspector General Communications and IT at GHQ, while Lt Gen Qazi Ikram was appointed Chief of Logistic Staff. Lt Gen Sher Afgun was posted as 31 Corps Commander, which is based in Bahawalpur near the Indian border, while newly-promoted Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal will continue as DG FWO and Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf was appointed Chairman of the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).
The new army chief has not announced the names of incoming heads of Inter-Services Public Relations and Pakistan Rangers in Sindh.