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KARACHI: With the appointment of Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar as corps commander of Karachi, a new senior team has been put in place in Sindh to supervise overall security particularly the threat of militancy and terrorism that afflicts Pakistan’s commercial capital, it emerged on Monday.

Besides the corps commander, Sindh recently got a new director general of Rangers, Maj Gen Bilal Akbar, and a sector commander of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — both senior military officers.

Major General Mukhtar was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on Monday and posted to the army’s Corps V to replace the outgoing corps commander, Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani, who is due to retire on Oct 1.

Unlike his predecessor who originally came from the corps of engineers, the new corps commander belongs to the armoured corps. He was commissioned in 1983.

Sources close to the military circles believed that Gen Mukhtar was given the sensitive assignment due to his experience in the field of intelligence, as currently he was heading the counterterrorism wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence in Islamabad. They said he had first-hand knowledge of security threats being faced by the country, including Karachi, due to his job in the ISI.

Traditionally the corps commander always has a role in the overall security affairs, though technically it is the responsibility of the provincial government.

They said the corps commander, along with the Rangers director general and the provincial chief of the ISI, played his role in facilitating the government as well as law enforcement agencies to improve the security situation in Karachi. “It is always a coordinated, but informal effort.”

Citing an example, sources said it was Gen Ghani who ordered deployment of troops at the Karachi airport when armed militants stormed the Terminal One in June this year.

“No one could ignore the role of the army in that operation. The corps commander himself supervised the operation. It was just because of the coordination between the army, Rangers and civilian forces that terrorists failed to achieve their target,” said a source.

The Karachi corps commander is also president of the executive board of the Defence Officers Housing Authority.

However, there are expectations that Gen Mukhtar, unlike his predecessor, would not become involved in land issues such as the recent move to shift food restaurants away from the Do Darya area.

Lt Gen Ghani was appointed corps commander in November 2013 after the then army chief transferred and appointed Lt Gen Ijaz Chaudhry, also a former Sindh Rangers director general, to the GHQ as inspector-general of arms.

During the tenure of the outgoing corps commander, the DHA got entangled in a web of legal battles. It challenged, presumably with the consent of the outgoing corps commander, the construction of a traffic project in Clifton by real estate developer Bahria Town despite the fact that the area did not fall under its jurisdiction. When a stay order was granted by the Sindh High Court in favour of the DHA, a Rangers contingent was despatched to stop the construction works at the site. At that time, Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar was the director general of the Rangers, and he withdrew the paramilitary soldiers from the area the following day.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2014