By M. Sarwar
ISLAMABAD: Within two weeks of promotion from Major General to Lt. Gen (on 28th September), the formal announcement of Asim Munir’s appointment as new director general (DG) of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was made on Wednesday, (10th October 2018). The sources said that Lt. Gen Asim will assume office on the retirement of incumbent ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar on Oct 25.
Following reports that DG-ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar will retire after completing his tenure and no extension would be in scene, it was certain that Lt Gen Munir was next in line for the post on the basis of merit, experience and professional skill. The Pakistan Army had in September approved the promotion of Asim Munir and five other major generals to the rank of Lt Gen.
He was always believed to be a strong contender for the ISI appointment because of his intelligence background. There are very few examples of a Military Intelligence chief being posted as head of the ISI. There are three such instances in the past nearly three decades — Lt Gen Nadeem Taj (2007-08), Gen Ehsanul Haq (2001-04), Lt Gen Asad Durrani (1990-91) and Lt Gen Hamid Gul (1987-89).
Lt Gen Munir’s previous appointment was as DG Military Intelligence. He received a Hilal-i-Imtiaz on 23rd March 2018. He has also served as commander of the Force Command Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan). He had also served as military attaché in Saudi Arabia as Lt Colonel and due to religious trend and deep interest in Islam, he memorised Holy Quran during his posting and became ‘Hafiz-e-Qura’n’.
According to procedure, the ISI chief is appointed by the Prime Minister. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Imran Khan along with the then ISI chief at PM office on Friday (28th September). Since the ISI chief’s appointment is a prerogative of the prime minister and as such it is the first significant military-related posting made by the PTI government.
Usually, the army chief sends three names for the coveted slot and the prime minister has the authority to pick any one of them. According to sources, the appointment of new ISI chief was discussed during the meeting and later on, the prime minister made his mind and took the decision to appoint Lt. Gen Asim Munir for this important slot.
It is stated that Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa had picked Gen Munir as the Military Intelligence chief months after assuming command in November 2016. Before his MI assignment, he was Force Commander Northern Areas, where he had for sometime also worked under Gen Bajwa, who was then heading Corps X that is responsible for Northern Areas. He is, therefore, believed to be Gen Bajwa’s most trusted person.
A former defence secretary, while appreciating the appointment, said: “It is always better to appoint someone well versed with intelligence to head ISI.” Another retired general said it was important that Gen Munir was coming to the ISI “with complete insight of the developments that have been taking place”.
In addition to announcing Munir’s new charge as DG ISI, the Inter-Services Public Relations also announced that Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi will take over as chief of Logistics Staff at General Headquarters, Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki has been appointed commander Peshawar Corps, Lt Gen Abdul Aziz has been posted as the GHQ military secretary, Lt Gen Muhammad Adnan has been appointed vice chief of general staff, while Lt Gen Waseem Ashraf is set to take over as the IG Arms.
The new appointments are as follows:
- Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi Chief of Logistics Staff, GHQ.
- Lt Gen Asim Munir, DG ISI.
- Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj, Comdr Mangla Corps.
- Lt Gen Shaheen Mazher, Comd Peshawar Corps.
- Lt Gen Abdul Aziz, Military Secretary GHQ.
- Lt Gen Muhammad Adnan, VCGS (B).
- Lt Gen Waseem Ashraf, IG Arms.
It may be recalled that on September 28, six major generals of the Pakistan Army were promoted to the ranks of lieutenant general. The promoted major generals included Shaheen Mazhar, Nadeem Zaki Manj, Abdul Aziz, Asim Munir, Adnan and Waseem Ashraf.
Recently, a major reshuffle took place in the army, under which Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza was appointed as the Chief of General Staff. General Raza replaced Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar who was appointed as Commander 10 Corps (Rawalpindi).
Moreover, Lieutenant General Muhammad Naeem Ashraf was appointed Commander 2 Corps (Multan), Lieutenant General Humayun Aziz as Commandar 5 Corps (Karachi), Lieutenant General Shahid Baig Mirza as the inspector general for communications and information technology and Lieutenant General Abdullah Dogar as the chairman for Heavy Industries Taxila.
22 ISI Chiefs have served on this powerful position since 1948.
Imran praises ISI
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited ISI Headquarter on Wednesday (12th September) and acknowledged the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) contribution towards national security and counter-terrorism efforts. He was received by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.
PM Khan, after arriving the ISI HQ in Islamabad, laid floral wreath at Yadgar-i-Shuhada and offered Fateha.
The prime minister said that the ISI is Pakistan’s first line of defence and that the government and people of the country stand behind their armed forces and their intelligence agencies. He was also briefed about various strategic intelligence and national security matters during his visit to the ISI headquarter.
No social media account
Inter Services Public Relations has said that Director General ISI or any officer of Pakistan Army maintains no official account on any social media platform.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the official accounts are of spokesperson only. He said that all such accounts may be treated as fake except DG ISPR.
On his official twitter handle on Wednesday he said that the official accounts were of spokesperson only i.e. DG ISPR.