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Why Bajwa did not shift ISI chief

By RANA BANERJI
September 08, 2021 16:31 IST
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Despite persisting questions among peer officers in the army about his professional competence and ethics, after his recent 'triumphal' Kabul sojourn, Faiz Hameed remains the hot favourite of both General Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan, notes Rana Banerji, who headed the Pakistan desk at the Research and Analysis Wing.

IMAGE: Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, director general, Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan army. Photograph: Twitter

In a much awaited mini-reshuffle of lieutenant generals in the Pakistan army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistan army chief, has sent out Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Sind Regiment, currently Chief of General Staff, as Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi, bringing in Lieutenant General Azhar Abbas, Baloch Regiment, from there as Chief of General Staff.

In another straight exchange, Lieutenant General Waseem Ashraf, Frontier Force Regiment, Corps Commander, II Corps, Multan, who had already done another Corps command (XII Corps) is shifted as Director General, Joint Staff, Joint Staff Headquarters, bringing in Lieutenant General Chiragh Haider, Frontier Force Regiment, as the new II Corps Commander, Multan.

With these changes, three of the four lieutenant generals who will be senior-most after General Bajwa retires in November 22 (if he does) -- Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Azhar Abbas, Nauman Mehmood (currently, GoC XI Corps, Peshawar) will have held the conventionally mandatory Corps command, to be eligible for selection as army chief.

General Bajwa has chosen not to shift Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, Baloch Regiment, from the post of director general, Inter Services Intelligence, at present, perhaps inevitably so, considering Faiz has been at the hub of happenings in Afghanistan.

Despite persisting questions among peer officers in the army about his professional competence and ethics, after his recent 'triumphal' Kabul sojourn, Faiz remains the hot favourite of both General Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Another reshuffle of lieutenant generals could come soon, as three of them -- Lieutenant General Majid Ehsan, Punjab Regiment, Lieutenant General Aamir Abbasi, Frontier Force Regiment, and Lieutenant Gen Hamood uz Zaman Khan, Commander, Air Defence Command, are slated to retire on October 18, 2021

Of the three vacancies that would emerge, one may have to be filled from Air Defence.

The senior most Air Defence officer eligible is Major General Sarfraz Muhammad.

Two or three other major generals may be promoted. Major General Nauman Zakaria, Armoured Corps, presently Director General Military Operations, would most likely be eligible for elevation, on grounds of both seniority and merit, along with other contenders like Major General Ayman Bilal Safdar, Artillery, currently Inspector General, Frontier Corps, South Balochistan, Major General Muhd Asim Malik, Baloch Regiment (son of retired Lieutenant General Ghulam Mohd Malik), currently Vice Chief of General Staff (A) at GHQ and Major General Shahid Nazir, Punjab Regiment, currently Vice Chief of General Staff (B) at GHQ.

In making these changes/promotions, General Bajwa may have to take special care not to be seen to be favouring Baloch Regiment officers too much, as there have been murmurings in this regard within senior army echelons.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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