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New ISI chief to be named soon: report

Updated September 18, 2014

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COAS Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
COAS Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

RAWALPINDI: The name of a new director general for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is likely to be announced next week along with the appointment of five new lieutenant generals in the Pakistan Army, a report published in the BBCUrdu said.

The prime minister has been considering a couple of names for the top intelligence slot, sources close to the premier told BBCUrdu. Those being considered for the position are Lahore corps commander Lt-Gen Naveed Zaman and President National Defence University Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday. Meanwhile, names for the slot circulating in military circles are Maj-Gen Nazeer Butt and Maj-Gen Rizwan Akhtar.

Sources privacy to the development told BBCUrdu that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif wanted to promote certain military officials from the rank of Major General to that of Lieutenant General. These appointments are likely to come before the naming of the new ISI chief so that one of these Lt-Gens may be considered for the top intelligence slot.

The development is expected as current ISI chief Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam and five lieutenant generals are scheduled to retire from service in the first week of October.

The appointments are coming at a time when the army has been accused of meddling in politics and although the retirements and subsequent appointments do not appear suspect, they are drawing much interest particularly on account of their timing.

Also read: When Zaheerul Islam was named ISI chief

The military officers retiring in October include ISI chief Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, Mangla corps commander Lt-Gen Tariq Khan, Gujranwala corps commander Lt-Gen Saleem Nawaz, Peshawar corps commander Lt-Gen Khalid Rabbani and Karachi corps commander Lt-Gen Sajjad Ghani.

All five positions are of paramount importance in the military but the chief of the ISI is regarded as the army's most important official after the army chief himself. The ISI chief is appointed by the prime minister, traditionally on the advice of the army chief.

The report added that a dialogue is underway between the Prime Minister House and the General Headquarters on the ISI chief's appointment. However, close aides of the prime minister have said that no formal discussion has taken place between the premier and the COAS on the matter. They added that General Raheel is expected to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to appointing the five Lt-Gens.

More on this: ISI and its former chiefs enjoy immunity, says US