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Stand-off between Pak Army Chief Bajwa & Imran Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent reference regarding the dismissal of the legendary Arab military commander, Khalid ibn al-Walid, by Umar has caused anxiety in the GHQ, the nerve centre of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi, whether the Khan is going to dismiss the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is on an extended three-year tenure.
Khan has recently been heard saying, according to the media reports, that Umar could remove the much-trumpeted soldier despite his excellent performance on the war front during the 7th century religious wars,, but it was done for the larger interests of the Islam.
There was no backlash against this decision. This observation is also being interpreted that Khan is issuing a veiled threat to Bajwa that his tenure could be ended, if he so wishes.
The differences between Khan and Bajwa were much pronounced during the past two weeks following the reshuffle of the corps commanders, which included the deployment of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), chief, Lt. General Faiz Hamid, as the corps commander of Peshawar.
Hamid has been replaced by the corpse commander of Karachi, Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. Hamid, who is reportedly aspiring to be the army chief, needs at least one-year experience as a core commander.
This experience is considered necessary for being considered for the coveted post of the army chief.
Initially, Khan had approved the postings, but later he might have realized that Anjum known for his uprightness might not be “manipulating elections” for ensuring his victory in 2023.
It is quite known that since 1947, when Pakistan was carved out from India by the outgoing colonial power, Britain, it has been either under the spell of the military dictators or under the hybrid regimes.
The spy agency has been a key instrument of the successive military regimes or their proxies.
There are differences among political observers in Pakistan whether the ISI chief appointment should be notified by the PMO, but the convention has been that while the corps commanders are appointed by the army chief, but the appointment of the ISI-DG is done by the PMO.
The convention is that the transfers of the corps commanders are done by the army chief, but the ISI-DG’s posting is to be notified by the office of the Prime Minister (PMO).
The army’s notification had announced the new postings, including the appointment of the new ISI-DG, but the delay in the notification from the PMO has triggered off speculations in the Pakistani media, both social and mainline.
Bajwa’s selection of Anjum for the key-post was natural, because he had received in-service training in the Royal college of Britain as well as the the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu, Philippines.
Since its inception, ISI, a brainchild of major general Sir Robert Cawthrone, a British officer who was deployed in the Pakistani army by Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy and governor general in India.
Cawthrone, who had planned Pakistan’s aggression in Jammu-Kashmir in 1948 realised that the Paki forces were trounced due to the lack of any effective intelligence network.
The ISI’s sinister role in promoting terrorism, planning and executing army coups in Pakistan since 1858, killing Pakistani journalists or activists including Baloches, Pakhtoons and Mohajirs (the Muslims who migrated to Paksitna from UP, Haryana and other parts of northern India) across the continents or even in manipulating the domestic politics is well-known. It had helped General Ayub Khan to topple the civilian government.
The then chief of the army staff, General Zia-ul-Haq, ousted his mentor and the only elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, ZA Bhutto, on July five 1977, the role of the ISI increased. In 2018, Khan was openly helped by the ISI, to win the elections.
Apart from the execution of Bhutto, assassination of his charismatic daughter, Benazir Bhutto and in the framing of false charges against Nawaz Sharif and forcing the judiciary to convict him, ISI’s role is well-known.
(The views expressed by the author are personal )
(The writer is accredited as a Journalist of Long and distinguished service with the Press Information Bureau of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry)