Pak army chief won DG ISI battle, PM Imran Khan got the procedural lollypop
Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa revealed both his military clout and political maturity in getting his ISI candidate Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum appointed as head of Pakistan’s spy agency while ostensibly deferring to the process demands made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
With PM Khan having no options but to tow the line of army chief, there is very strong speculation that Gen Bajwa may continue to head the military beyond his current retirement date of November 2022. Gen Bajwa took over as Pak Army Chief on November 29, 2016. On October 6, 2021, he replaced Lt Gen Faiz Hameed as DG, ISI and appointed Karachi V Corps Commander Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the head spook. Gen Hameed, who has been an open supporter of Taliban’s Interior Minister and global terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani, was appointed as the Commander of XI Corps at Peshawar.
The appointment got stuck after PM Khan wanted the due process to be followed as if indicating that he did not want to replace Gen Hameed, who was again seen in Kabul with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after his replacement has been announced by the Rawalpindi GHQ.
While Pak PM showed his ostensible clout with the Army by issuing a press release about Gen Anjum taking over as ISI from Gen Hameed on November 19, fact is that Gen Bajwa had his way with civilian leadership happy with a facile victory. Unlike Gen Bajwa who hardly comments on India unnecessarily, PM Khan showed his political immaturity by gloating on Pak cricket team defeating India in a T20 match in Dubai. His clever offer of a dialogue with India from Saudi Arabia is a non-starter as the Modi government will not open any diplomatic channel till Pakistan stops targeting India through home bred Islamic jihadists. The rabid Islamic comments made by PM Khan’s minister and even former Pakistan cricketers after the T20 victory have been noted by the government. It was seen an attempt by Pakistan civilian leadership to be seen as more aggressive than Pak Army leadership on India for political gains in future.
Even though Gen Bajwa allowed Khan to save face by first sending a panel of names of Army commander under consideration of the DG ISI job and then allowing them to be interviewed by Pak PM, the bottom line was that Gen Nadeem Anjum’s name could not be changed by the civilian leadership.
The change as directed by Gen Bajwa happened despite Gen Hameed increasing temperatures on both sides of the border with bombings of so-called ISKP in Afghanistan and targeted killings by proxies of Pak terror groups in Kashmir in the run up to his Peshawar posting announcement by Rawalpindi. In the end, Bajwa won the game hands down, Pak PM only managed a lollypop as a consolation prize.