RAWALPINDI: Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, considered a close ally of Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, has been promoted to the post of Director General Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) on Monday among other promotions within the army ranks.
The announcement was made by Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major Asim Bajwa on Twitter:
The announcement comes 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 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.
General Rizwan and Maj Gen Naveed Mukhtar were close contenders due to their experience of intelligence.
Bajwa also announced the names of Major Generals who will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave approval of these postings on the recommendations of General Raheel Sharif.
|Starting from the extreme left, Gen Rizwan Akhar, General Hidayat ur Rehman, Gen Ghayur Mahmood, Gen Naveed Mukhtar, Gen Nazir Butt and Gen Hilal Hussain.
Profile of incoming ISI chief
Considered a close aide of the COAS, General Rizwan Akhtar is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, National Defense University and the Army War College, USA, a military official told Dawn.
Rizwan was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in Frontier Force Regiment in September 1982.
He is from the Frontier Force Regiment and commanded the infantry brigade and infantry division in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Previously as Sindh DG Rangers, Major General Rizwan Akhtar had been assigned with the task to lead the Karachi operation.
But the military had replaced him as DG Rangers Sindh with another senior military officer.
The decision by the military headquarters had come at a time when a joint operation by police and Rangers against terrorists and criminal elements in Karachi had been in its full swing.
Akhtar is also considered to have extensive experience of counterinsurgency from a previous posting in the border region of South Waziristan.
"He has served in a place like Karachi while remaining neutral and apolitical and has extensive experience of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. He was the obvious choice," said a serving military official who had served with Akhtar.
"He is a professional soldier who has experience of both Fata and internal security in Karachi,” an army official told Dawn.
“For Nawaz Sharif, the bottom line is that he doesn't want another Zaheer,” said a defence ministry official, summing up what the prime minister was looking for in his new spy chief.
“Somehow, the PM has never considered Zaheer his man. And that's been a source of great anxiety for him. So he wanted someone who doesn't have political leanings.”
He will take over as head of the ISI on October 8.
Major General Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain
Currently, he is serving as Director General Military Training at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. He was commissioned in Artillery in September 1982. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta, Australia and National Defense University Islamabad. He also served as Military Secretary to the President of Pakistan. He commanded an Infantry brigade in Fata and also served as Director General Rangers Punjab.
Major General Ghayur Mahmood
Major General Ghayur Mahmood was commissioned in the Frontier Force regiment in 1982. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta, Kuala Lumpur and NDU Islamabad. He has commanded an Infantry Division in Fata. The general officer has also served as Inspector General Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He is currently serving as Vice Chief of the General Staff at the General Headquarters.
Major General Nazir Ahmed Butt
Major General Nazir Ahmed Butt is the Commandant of the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul. He was commissioned in the Frontier Force regiment in March 1983. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta and National Defense University Islamabad. He was the Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and Defence attaché in USA. He has commanded an Infantry Division in Fata.
Major General Naveed Mukhtar
Major General Naveed Mukhtar was commissioned in the Armoured Corps regiment in 1983. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta, National Defense University Islamabad and War Course USA. He has commanded a Mechanised Division and presently he is serving in Dte Gen of ISI.
Major General Hidayat ur Rehman
Major General Hidayat ur Rehman is presently the chief instructor at NDU Islamabad. He was commissioned in 1983. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta and the National Defense University in Islamabad. He has commanded an Infantry Division.
PM meets COAS
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif held a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister House today and took him into confidence over the latest promotions and postings in the Pakistan Army, particularly the appointment of Gen Rizwan Akhtar as Director General ISI.
The army chief brought with him the appointment file of the new DG ISI and after long deliberations, the premier gave approval to the name of Major Gen Rizwan Akhtar as the new spymaster of the ISI. Under the rule, the DG ISI is directly answerable to the premier therefore the appointment of DG ISI is also approved by the premier. However, the army chief's recommendations are always given weightage by the premier.
During the meeting, professional matters relating to the army, including the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan, also came under discussion.