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EDITORIAL: Since the military’s media wing, ISPR, announced a few days ago top level transfers and postings the change of command at the premier intelligence agency, the ISI, has been the subject of immense discussion and speculation. What prompted so much interest in it was that office of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, the appointing authority for the position, did not issue a notification for the appointment of Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum in place of the incumbent, Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed, who is earmarked to command the Peshawar Corps. It turned out that all the ensuing kite-flying and speculations were not without reason. That the PM was not pleased at the move and the manner in which it was made is now out in the open. PTI leader Amir Dogar told the media on Tuesday that the night before PM had a long meeting with the Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on the matter, and told the latter that he wanted Gen Hameed to continue for a bit longer as Director-General ISI in view of the current situation in Afghanistan. Speaking at a presser, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the issue of ISI chief’s appointment has been resolved, which is welcome news. Civil and military relations, he said, are very important in the backdrop of the history of Pakistan. This country’s chequered political history shows that aside from direct interventions by uniformed adventurists, civilian governments also have not felt free to do whatever they deemed in the greater national interest. As regards the issue at hand, there is no confusion about it; it is the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister to make that appointment, selecting any of the three names submitted by the military for the position of DG-ISI. Now, that the requisite summary, according to news reports, has reached the prime minister’s office, due process would commence in earnest.

The PM, in our view, is required to concentrate on big picture and not be distracted by details. In other words, he must not focus on specifics so intensely that he fails to see the entire perspective on the situation. That the situation is instructive in ways well beyond it tends to suggest is a fact. The onus of avoiding a deadlock, therefore, lies more with the PM than the army chief for some obvious reasons. It may be recalled, for example, that in 2008 prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani successfully ended a civil-military standoff his decision to bring the ISI under the oversight of Interior Ministry had created. A ‘clarification’ issued by his government that the notification was the result of some “misunderstanding” successfully worked towards protecting and preserving the civilian-military relationship in order to sustain the greater good.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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