Imran considering 3 names for DG-ISI; will interview
ISLAMABAD: Amidst various speculations and rumours in regards to appointment of new DG-ISI, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said that the consultations about this appointment have been completed between Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa but a latest report has revealed that three names including Lt. Gen Nadeem Ahmad Anjum are under consideration of prime minister and all three candidates would be interviews by the premier. It may recalled that announcement of Lt. Gen Anjum as new DG-ISI has already been announced by ISPR but his notification has not been issued yet.
Imran Khan is chairing his party’s parliamentarian party at the Parliament House today where he took them into confidence on appointment of DG-ISI, govt-Army relations, Afghanistan and other important issues.
Fawad Choudhary ruled out any differences between the civil and military leadership by stating that both were on the same page. Talking informally to media persons at the Parliament House, he said the process of appointment of Director General Inter Services Intelligence has started and would be completed soon.
He said that things were normal and some people were distorting things to get cheap publicity. “We respect the institutions, there are no differences between the Pakistan Army and the government, they are all on the same page,” he said.
Fawad Chaudhry said it was convention for the prime minister to meet candidates before appointments were made to key positions such as the ISI chief, adding that efforts to make the process controversial were inappropriate.
“The process for appointing the new DG ISI will be completed soon. The game that a specific section wants to play on this has been defeated. Now it is being said that the prime minister will hold interviews for the new DG ISI. A meeting before such appointments is conventional. Making this process controversial is highly inappropriate,” he said.
Chaudhry was apparently responding to a report published which quoted a federal minister as saying that the premier wanted to interview officials who were shortlisted for the position of ISI chief.
“The source said that all the processes in this regard are being followed in line with the understanding reached between the prime minister and the army chief. The source hinted that the Karachi corps commander is still the most likely choice for the post of DG ISI,” the report said.
“A federal minister on condition of not being named told this correspondent that the prime minister wants to interview all the three officers, recommended in the panel by the army chief,” the report added.
Separately, while talking to reporters at the Parliament House in Islamabad, Chaudhry insisted that “matters are completely alright.” “The problem is that every hour some person, for getting fame, twists some words and puts it up [on Twitter]. At this time, the process has started. There is no conflict between the army and the government. Everyone is on the same page,” he said.
In response to a question about when the government would notify the new ISI chief, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill, who was accompanying the information minister, said, “Do not take this so [urgently].”
It is worth mentioning here that a long meeting took place between PM Imran Khan and the Army Chief in Islamabad on Tuesday night. The informed sources said that during the unusual long meeting they stocked complete regional situation including very tense relations with India and Afghan vulnerable circumstances.
“Imran Khan is in favour to keep Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed as ISI boss and his point of view is that Gen Hameed is very much familiar with Afghan and Indian affairs and would be suitable for these responsibilities whereas Gen Bajwa says that this appointment is of routine nature and Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmad Anjum is capable and eligible to handle this position.
The sources commented that the appointment of Lt. Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum is taken by COAS Gen Bajwa and any linger on in issuing notification will create ambiguity and speculations and will also undermine the position of Lt. Gen Nadeem. “Hence, PM Imran Khan will not likely change this decision otherwise will invite an issue of discussion”, the sources added.
Different news outlets, newspapers, TV channels and politicians are giving their opinions and speculations which has become more complicated situation but setting aside all speculations, Information Minister Fawad Choudhary has said that “the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government enjoy “an ideal relationship with the military.
“The prime minister shares a very close relationship with the army chief”.
He further clarified that the Prime Minister’s Office will never take a step that would hurt the reputation of the army and also the Army Chief will never take any step that can damage the reputation of the prime minister”.
The minister said that the government will adopt a legal procedure to appoint the DG ISI and will ensure all constitutional requirements are fulfilled in this regard. “It is the prerogative of the prime minister to appoint the DG ISI,” he said.
Another news outlet ‘The News’ quoted informed sources has reported today that the decision of appointment of new DG-ISI looks still far to make and now it is learnt that Prime Minister Imran Khan will interview the possible candidate for this post though the name of DG-ISI has already been announced by ISPR.
A federal minister on condition of not being named told that the prime minister wants to interview all the three officers, recommended in the panel by the army chief. When asked when the government would issue the notification, the source said it may take a day or two. There has been speculation about the possible issuance of the notification on Wednesday.
Another source has said that the notification for the new DG ISI is expected in a day or two as Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to interview the officers included in the shortlist for the key post.
The source said that all the processes in this regard are being followed in line with the understanding reached between the prime minister and the army chief. The source hinted that the Karachi corps commander is still the most likely choice for the post of DG ISI.
The ruling party’s chief whip Amir Dogar disclosed in a TV show on Tuesday night that the PM wanted to retain the incumbent DG ISI for a few months. According to Mr Dogar, the PM informed the federal cabinet that he had told the army chief that he wanted the DG ISI to continue for some time due to the critical situation in the neighbouring country.
PM receives summary
According to another source, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday received a summary carrying names of candidates for one of the most powerful slots in the country. A federal minister, who did not want to be named, told Dawn that the premier received the summary that carried names for the office of DG ISI.
Also, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) reprimanded its chief whip in the National Assembly Amir Dogar for disclosing details of the Monday night meeting of the PM with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa followed by Mr Khan’s remarks at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He reportedly received a show-cause notice from the party.
According to experts in defence matters, the procedure for the appointment is not mentioned in the Constitution or the Army Act, and all past appointments were made as per traditions under which the army chief proposes three names to the premier who then makes a final decision.
Since a notification of the appointment had not been issued by the PM Office for next couple of days, it led to feverish speculation in the federal capital, compelling the government to break its silence on the issue. The information minister then on Tuesday told the presser that PM Khan and the COAS had a “long sitting” last night to discuss the matter after which the premier took the cabinet into confidence on the issue.
Ongoing impasse and Fawad Choudhary
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary has acknowledged that the fallout of a rift among institutions could be “immense”, and emphasised that the regional environment requires the civil and military leadership to “remain on the same page”.
He said the institutions, too, were aware of what the situation warrants, as he hoped that “no such problem” (confrontation) would arise. When asked if the political climate in Pakistan could impact the Afghan situation or expose it to further international pressure, the minister ruled out such a possibility, insisting that Pakistan’s leadership had successfully tackled the crisis.
“It would have affected the situation, had the relations among the institutions were not cordial or there were different policies like in the past, but it’s not the case,” he added.
When asked if important postings identified by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in its recent press release would also be reviewed during the new appointment “process” for DG’s ISI appointment, the minister refused to say much, only responding: “You will come to know once the decision is announced.”
Fawad Chaudhry reiterated his remarks made in a tweet on Wednesday, saying that the process for the appointment of the DG ISI had begun and the matter was now heading towards its conclusion.
“I can’t give a time frame for it (announcement) but it should conclude at the earliest,” he said. “However, the process will be completed within its stipulated time and it won’t take longer than that.”
Maryam Nawaz’s reaction
In her reaction to the deadlock between civil-military leadership on Wednesday, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz had alleged the prime minister took decisions under the influence of “spirits” adding that “he does so for making top appointments and not for giving relief to the public at large”.
She had also termed the premier’s alleged resentment towards the appointment of the DG ISI by the army chief as uncalled for, saying only a “lawfully elected prime minister” could make top appointments of national security organisations.
Fawad Chaudhry, in the interview, deemed Maryam’s criticism as “non-serious”, accusing the PML-N leader of trying to garner “media attention” with such remarks.
Asif Zardari’s comments
Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said that the PPP’s stance since the first day of the PTI government’s tenure had been that “he (Prime Minister Imran Khan) is incompetent.” He was responding to a question outside the accountability court in Islamabad today about the prime minister’s handling of the appointment of the new DG ISI.