Why The Need Felt To Change The ISI DG?
The only meaning of “change” in Pakistan before the practical politics of PTI was “transfer”. Whenever any incident or huge tragedy happened, some junior or senior officers were transferred. Some were made OSD for a short period or case was registered if the matter was serious. During the seven decades, Pakistan was divided, the army ruled for 30 years, corruption was the rule in democracy and blood was shed in the name of religion. Terrorism claimed thousands of lives and the poor masses witnessed so many transfers and dismissals. Many inquiries and commissions were made, but there has never been any change.
The political forces gave credit for the change, which the nation and Imran Khan felt in the rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, to ISI chief Gen Pasha. This change shaped into a slogan during the sit-in 2014. Despite the mistakes made by PTI, this slogan maintained popularity from the sit-in to the elections and the people handed over the government to PTI in the 2018 polls with a majority. Since that day till today, the people are in search of change, while Imran Khan is continuously busy in transfers instead of the change. Recently, he has changed the ISI chief who he had himself appointed seven months ago.
An eye always is kept on this institution internationally and it remains in news domestically. The appointment of this institution’s head has an interesting history. During the 70-year-long history of this institution, eight “valuable advisors” remained its head for around 47 years while 15 others performed the job for the remaining 23 years.
Notwithstanding laws and rules, the appointment of this institution’s head has its own mechanism and duration. Ayub Khan kept Gen Riaz along with him for seven years and Gen Jillani remained its head from 1971 to 1977. Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, the father of today’s politician Humayun Akhtar, served as the ISI head for eight years, during Ziaul Haq’s rule.
After that, there was a period of musical chair of democracy in Pakistan from 1988 to 1999, which saw four prime ministers, three interim prime ministers and five ISI chiefs. Mr Ziauddin Butt is prominent of them. He remained the head for one year and then became a victim of solitary confinement.
During Pervaiz Musharraf’s tenure, Gen Ehsan occupied the office of four years followed by around three years of Gen Kayani, and both of them got the fourth star after that. When Musharraf made Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the army chief, he appointed his faithful Gen Nadeem Taj as the head, but just one year later transferred him as corps commander Gujranwala. And then from Oct 2008 to March 2012, it was Gen Pasha – a darling of Gen Kayani and much loved by the Americans.
It was the period when so many things like the US operation in Abbottabad operation happened, the reality of which will always remain a secret in a country like Pakistan. Earlier, Gen Pasha served as the in-charge of military operations – a position which was assigned to Gen Javed and he occupied an important slot like AG after promotion while remaining close to Gen Kayani. He is one who recently got 14-year imprisonment. Well done current army chief!
Gen Asim Munir’s tenure as the institution’s head is shortest. The same prime minister and the army chief changing the head of this important institution after only seven months, it has happened for the first time in Pakistan’s history. Is it a transfer or a huge step towards a change?
Constitutionally, the Prime Minister of Pakistan has the authority to appoint and transfer the head of this important institution and the army chief can only give a list comprising three names and his preference, the purpose of which is to facilitate the prime minister as the appointment is his discretionary power either to choose of one of them or ask for another list.
The Supreme Court’s suo motu notice of the Faizabad sit-in in November 2017 and the verdict passed by Justice Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam in November 2018 are now part of the history. But the implementation of the orders is still pending against those people who transgressed their powers. The honourable judges also found the ISPR chief guilty of talking about politics and the ISI of interfering in matters which are not its domain. Is this change related to the future government-judiciary matters, whether it is the Supreme Judicial Council or Zardari and the Sharif brothers or other corruption cases?
Why the prime minister felt the need of this change or transfer after seven months? Does he assign the responsibility of this transfer to the army chief previously or he has nothing to do with this kind of change or transfer? Did the previous head not accept the orders or committed some other thing? It can only be explained by the prime minister’s spokesperson. However, it has also to be decided that whether the people have the right to know the facts or not? And who will make this decision and when?
In my opinion, both the prime minister and the army are in full agreement on the appointment and it is more about the economy and national interest than politics. There is very little probability of the army chief needing an ISI head who is just a voice of his master.
Gen Faiz Hameed appeared before the public for the first time when Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi insisted on his participation in the Islamabad agreement and he signed as guarantor.
Gen Faiz Hameed has a middle class background and is from Chakwal – the biggest nursery of Pakistan Army’s generals. He is not only handsome but also has a polite personality. He gives an impression of common, pure and simple person, and is a proven faithful soldier of the army chief.
When Ziauddin Butt was appointed as the ISI chief, Pervaiz Musharraf felt the need of keeping an eye from within. A similar responsibility was given by the army chief due to the situation, the institution head’s family relations with the Mian brother and perhaps because of his liking for beauty, which was fulfilled with sincerity and honestly.
His experience include Imran Khan’s sit-in, Dawn Leaks, WikiLeaks JIT, matters related to tweet, Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s sit-in, the Senate and National Assembly elections, and the PTI’s stunts during the past 10 months. That’s why, in my opinion, he not only deserves this because of his experience, personality, faithfulness and ability but also he is available. It is my personal opinion that it is a change, not transfer, and only time will tell how good and refreshing it would be. Pewasta Re Shajar Se, Umeed–e–Bahar Rakh
The writer is a PhD scholar with diverse experience and international exposure. He possesses conscious knowledge about phenomenon of terrorism and extremism coupled with realistic understanding of geo political, social and security environment