Imran Khan, Gen Bajwa tension simmers in Pak before new DG ISI appointment

Pakistan is currently on tenterhooks with all the major generals in the ISI already reporting to Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, who is already in Rawalpindi to take over from Lt Gen Hameed.
Imran Khan’s political space appears to be shrinking due to poor economy due to high debt and inflation. (File Photo)
Imran Khan’s political space appears to be shrinking due to poor economy due to high debt and inflation. (File Photo)
Updated on Nov 14, 2021 11:06 AM IST
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ByShishir Gupta, New Delhi

With Lt General Nadeem Anjum scheduled to take over as DG (ISI) on November 20, there is perceived tension in Islamabad’s power corridors due to growing politico-military differences between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with the former still in favour of retaining incumbent ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. Gen Anjum is presently Karachi Corps Commander and Gen Hameed has been posted as Peshawar Corps Commander.

Even as the big two in Pakistan are at loggerheads, PM Khan’s political space appears to be shrinking due to poor economy due to high debt and inflation, and the Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed hauling him over coals for seeking a peace deal with Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group with the help of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the eponymous terrorist network. That the Pakistan regime virtually surrendered to the demands of marchers of Barelvi Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) by lifting the ban on the extremist group and releasing its jailed leaders earlier this month has seriously added to PM Khan’s political discomfort.

According to Islamabad watchers, Pakistan is currently on tenterhooks with all the major generals in the ISI already reporting to Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, who is already in Rawalpindi to take over from Lt Gen Hameed. “There is political flux in Islamabad with rumours flying all over the place speculating outcomes of the fight between Khan and Bajwa in the run-up to the new DG ISI. There are even unverified reports that the 111 Rawalpindi brigade is also on the standby to tackle the worst-case scenario,” said an expert. There are reports that coalition partners of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf government like MQM and PML-Q are looking for other political options.

One of the key reasons behind the removal of Lt Gen Hameed by Gen Bajwa was due to the former’s proximity to the Taliban regime in Kabul, particularly the Sirajuddin Haqqani group. While PM Khan wanted Afghanistan to add to Pakistan strategic space against India, Gen Bajwa apparently believes that the toxic ideology of the Taliban would ultimately harm his country. The Pakistan army chief is against radical extremism from Afghanistan spilling over across the Durand Line.

While Pakistan polity is no stranger to constant political conspiracies and intrigue between the Army and the civilian leadership since 1947, the coming week may define whether PM Khan or Gen Bajwa comes on top.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021