ISLAMABAD, Sept 29: In a major reshuffle in the army’s top command, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday brought in a new head of the all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), changed four of the nine corps commanders and appointed a new chief of general staff, besides giving key postings to a few others.
The shake-up is the most wide-ranging since Gen Kayani took over as the COAS and perhaps even more significant since the former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf stepped down as the country’s controversial president.
The move came within hours of the promotion of seven major generals to the rank of three-star lieutenant generals, with a number of them becoming the direct beneficiary of the reshuffle.
Perhaps the most surprising of all such changes is the appointment of Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha as the new Director-General of ISI. He has replaced Lt-Gen Nadeem Taj, who has been appointed Commander of 30 Corps in Gujranwala. A highly professional soldier in his own right, Lt-Gen Pasha has, for the past over two years, been overseeing the ongoing security operation in the tribal areas and parts of the NWFP.
In his capacity as the director-general military operations (DGMO) he was directly responsible for the launching and execution of all major security strikes in Fata and Swat, the latest being the major onslaught against religious extremists in the Bajaur tribal agency.
But he is not the only beneficiary of Monday’s promotions and reshuffle carried out by General Kayani who, many believe, has put in place a new team to implement his vision for reviving the prestige of the armed forces and for enhancing the security of the state.
Some of the other significant appointees are former SSG Commander Lt-Gen Tahir Mahmood, who has been given the most crucial 10 Corps in Rawalpindi; Lt-Gen Shahid Iqbal, who has been made commander of the 5 Corps in Karachi; and Lt. Gen Muhammad Yusuf, who has been given 31 Corps in Bahawalpur.
Lt-Gen Mustafa has been appointed the Chief of General Staff. He will replace Lt-Gen Salahuddin Satti.
According to an announcement by the ISPR, the Corps Commanders of Rawalpindi, Karachi, Bahawalpur and Gujranwala have been changed.
Lt General Tahir Mehmood has been appointed the Corps Commander of Rawalpindi. He replaces Lt-Gen Mohsin Kamal who has been appointed MS (military secretary) at General Headquarters (GHQ). Lt-Gen Ahsan Azhar Hyat, Corps Commander Karachi, has been appointed Inspector General Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at GHQ. Lt-Gen Raza Mohammad, Corps Commander Bahawalpur, has been appointed Director-General Joint Staff at JSHQ. Lt-Gen Muhammad Yousaf has been appointed Corps Commander Bahawalpur. Lt-Gen Mohammad Zaki, Director-General Infantry, has been appointed IG Arms at GHQ. Lt-Gen Javed Zia, Deputy Chief of General Staff, has been appointed QMG at GHQ.
Lt-Gen Zahid Hussain has been appointed Adjutant General at GHQ. Lt-Gen Muhammad Mustafa has been appointed CGS at GHQ. Lt-Gen Tanvir Tahir has been appointed at IG Communication and IT at GHQ. Lt-Gen Ayyaz Salim Rana has been appointed Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).
The reshuffle is being seen by observers as highly significant as it comes against the backdrop of stepped-up US incursions inside Pakistan’s territory and the unusual statement by the Army Chief declaring that violation of the country’s sovereignty would not be allowed at any cost.
Some observers have pointed out that the ISI chief had been changed after the abortive attempt through a controversial notification to place the intelligence agency under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Ministry.
Earlier in the day, seven Major Generals were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Those promoted are three Major Generals of Infantry, two of Armoured Corps and one each of Artillery and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME). They are: Major General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, Major General Mohammad Mustafa Khan, Major General Ayyaz Saleem Rana, Major General Tahir Mahmood, Major General Shahid Iqbal, Major General Tanvir Tahir and Major General Zahid Hussain.
Official sources told Dawn that Maj-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha would be replaced by General Officer Commanding Jhelum Major General Javed Iqbal as Director General Military Operations.