Who is ISI chief Faiz Hameed whose visit to Kabul has sparked controversy?
Pakistan's ISI chief Faiz Hameed's visit to Kabul at a time when Pakistan is internationally accused of aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan has sparked off controversies. Ex-Pentagon official Michael Rubin has said that the visit, which was an 'emergency' trip to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan proves that the Taliban are merely an ISI puppet. Coinciding the visit, the Taliban delayed the announcement of their government. It is believed that ISI chief Faiz Hameed rushed to Kabul to broker peace between Mullah Baradar and the Haqqani network. The photo of Faiz Hameed after reaching Kabul and his interaction with media have been shared on social media indicating that it was no secret visit.
"According to Afghan sources, Hameed rushed to Kabul after a clash between Baradar and Haqqani-supported groups in which Baradar sustained injuries. The Haqqani and many other Taliban factions simply do not accept Haibatullah as their leader," Michael Rubin said.
"The visits of the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are usually kept under wraps but it wasn’t the case with his trip to Kabul," Pakistan's Tribune reported.
Who is ISI chief Faiz Hameed?
Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed is a three-star ranking general in the Pakistan Army. In 2019, he was appointed as the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence. Before Faiz Hameed, Lieutenant General Asim Muneer was the ISI chief. His appointment grabbed attention as Muneer was replaced within eight months.
Faiz Hameed is from the Baloch Regiment and before becoming the ISI chief was in charge of the internal security wing at the ISI.
Faiz Hameed was reportedly accused by former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif of forcing politicians to join Imran Khan's PTI before Pakistan's general elections in 2018.
Reports said the ISI chief met top Afghan leaders and also some foreign envoys in Kabul. He is meeting and working with Pakistan's ambassador Mansoor Ahmed Khan and his team on issues of repatriation and transit through Pakistan and the border situation, Geo News reported.
ISI chief to mediate?
Reports claimed that the visit is to mediate among various factions of the Taliban as they are not being able to come to a consensus.
"We understand from Taliban sources that he is here to mediate the Taliban. They have not yet managed to form a government. We understand that's because of all the different factions from different parts of the country. They can't agree. And he is here to try and sort it out between them. In the end, they are politicians like anywhere in the world. Each of the factions wants their own ministry," Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum, who interviewed Faiz Hameed in Kabul, said.
Afghanistan's TOLO News reports that Faiz Hameed met Hezb-e-Islami leader, former Afghanistan PM Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The meeting focused on how to form a coalition government in Afghanistan, it said.
What did Faiz Hameed say?
“We are working for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Don’t worry, everything will be okay," the ISI chief said to Channel 4.
Pakistani media said that he was invited by the Taliban for discussion on the formation of the government and Faiz Hameed was not the first intelligence agency chief to visit Kabul. The Tribune claimed that the CIA chief also visited Kabul but his visit was kept secret.
(With agency inputs)