Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has made a series of top-level changes in the military high command ahead of next month's presidential elections. Most important, the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate has been changed and a new commander of the Rawalpindi corps appointed on Friday.
The changes come days after Musharraf promised to step down as army chief if re-elected president. Major-General Nadeem Taj, believed to have close personal ties to the President, has been promoted as Lieutenant-General and appointed head of the ISI. Lt-Gen Mohsin Kamal has been made commander of the army's most important garrison, in Rawalpindi.
The changes are being watched closely as there is now growing speculation as to who will take over as the new army chief once the President steps down. Next month, two of Gen Musharraf's top deputies in the army retire — Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq, who is the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, and Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who is the vice-chief of army staff.
These two, along with the former head of the ISI, Lt Gen Ashraf Kiani, are being tipped as possible successors to General Musharraf as the army chief. These top-level changes are also being seen as the last being made by General Musharraf before he sheds his uniform.
Most politicial parties have not made any public statement on the changes. Privately, many political leaders have termed them significant as they will indicate how the army will be run in the coming years.