ISLAMABAD: The army on Friday appointed Lt Gen Nadeem Raza as new Chief of General Staff (CGS) amidst a major reshuffle in which almost one-third of the corps commanders were replaced.
The reshuffle precedes upcoming changes in the army’s top brass due to the impending retirement of five three-star generals in October. It is assumed that the postings at the General Headquarters and top command positions have been phased to smoothly carry out the imminent changes. The appointments announced on Friday and the upcoming changes together mean that a total of 22 positions of lieutenant generals will be affected. Executing all of them in one go would have come with logistical challenges.
An important feature of the postings announced by the army is that all of the transferred officers have swapped their positions with the new appointees. Lt Gen Nadeem Raza moves from 10 Corps to position of CGS and incumbent CGS Lt Gen Bilal Akbar goes to Chaklala to head 10 Corps. Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza has been posted as Inspector General of Communications & Information Technology in place of Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, who goes to Karachi to head 5 Corps.
Lt Gen Nadeem Raza made Chief of General Staff; Lt Gen Bilal Akbar to head 10 Corps
Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf will now be heading 2 Corps in Multan and the corps’ current commander Lt Gen Abdullah Dogar will become chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila in Lt Gen Ashraf’s place.
It may be recalled that almost a fortnight ago the Bahawalpur corps commander was also replaced when Lt Gen Javed Mehmood Bukhari was appointed in place of Lt Gen Sher Afgun, who was posted as Inspector General of Arms at the GHQ. Therefore, out of a total of nine corps, four have already got new commanders.
It is important to note that the next phase of changes, which will be due in about five weeks, will include important appointments of the new director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Peshawar corps commander.
Current ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and 11 Corps (Peshawar) Commander Lt Gen Nazir Butt will be among the five retiring three-star generals. The other three are Commander of Army Strategic Force Command Lt Gen Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain, Military Secretary at the GHQ Lt Gen Ghayur Mahmood and Training and Evaluation Inspector General Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman.
Appointment of the ISI chief will be the first test of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s management of tenuous civil-military relations. Assertive prime ministers in the past got their way in appointment of the spymaster. It will be one interesting appointment to watch out.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2018