ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon appoint a new head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) after the incumbent chief of the country’s premier spy agency is set to retire this month.
There were reports that Lt-General Naveed Mukhtar, the outgoing Director General ISI, would retire on October 1. However, military sources suggested that was not correct.
According to the sources, the current DG ISI has still a few days left in the office. They, however, confirmed that he would retire sometimes this month.
Following his retirement, the prime minister would appoint a new DG ISI. Although there is no official word yet, the incoming ISI chief is likely to be picked from the recently-promoted major generals to the rank of lieutenant generals.
The promoted officers include Maj Gen Shaheen Mazhar, Maj Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj, Maj Gen Abdul Aziz, Maj Gen Asim Munir, Maj Gen Adnan and Maj Gen Waseem Ashraf.
Traditionally, the coveted slot of DG ISI, considered the most powerful after the army chief’s post, goes to a three-star general with a considerable experience of working in intelligence agencies.
If this patron remains, the new ISI chief would be from the following three officers — Lt. General Nadeem Zaki Manj, Lt. General Asim Munir and Lt. General Waseem Ashraf.
Both Gen Manj and Gen Munir served as DG military intelligence while General Ashraf had the experience of working in the ISI.
Defence analyst Lt-General (retd) Amjad Shoaib, who is still closely connected with the security establishment, believes that Gen Manj and Gen Munir are hot favourites to replace the current ISI chief.
He said a panel of three Lt-generals would be forwarded to the prime minister, who would then pick any one of them.
“Intelligence background, career record and certain other personality traits play a key role in the appointment of ISI chief,” Gen Shaib explained.
He said unlike the past this time the appointment of new ISI chief would be made without any controversy. The reason, he cited, was because of the harmony between the civil and military leadership.
The prime minister would pick the new ISI chief based on the recommendations of the army chief, he added.
This would be the first major appointment the prime minister is going to make in the security establishment.
Within weeks of taking the charge, the prime minister visited the headquarters of the ISI in Islamabad.
He praised the intelligence agency for its contribution in the fight against terrorism, declaring the ISI as one of the world’s best spy agency.
Meanwhile, neither the army nor the government officially commented on the most-anticipated appointment of the ISI chief.