ISLAMABAD: Lt Gen Asim Munir was on Wednesday named as the new director general of premier spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence. He will assume office on the retirement of incumbent ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar on Oct 25.
The appointment of the new ISI director general was announced by Inter-Services Public Relations, the army’s public affairs wing.
The ISI chief’s appointment is a prerogative of the prime minister and as such it is the first significant military-related posting made by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. The spymaster’s choice is, however, made by the prime minister in consultation with the army chief.
Gen Munir, who had been promoted as a three-star general on Sept 28, was previously heading the Military Intelligence as its director general. He was always believed to be a strong contender for the ISI appointment because of his intelligence background.
There are very few examples of a Military Intelligence chief being posted as head of the ISI. There are three such instances in the past nearly three decades — Lt Gen Nadeem Taj (2007-08), Gen Ehsanul Haq (2001-04), Lt Gen Asad Durrani (1990-91) and Lt Gen Hamid Gul (1987-89).
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa had picked Gen Munir as the Military Intelligence chief months after assuming command in November 2016. Before his MI assignment, he was Force Commander Northern Areas, where he had for sometime also worked under Gen Bajwa, who was then heading Corps X that is responsible for Northern Areas. He is, therefore, believed to be Gen Bajwa’s most trusted person.
A former defence secretary, while appreciating the appointment, said: “It is always better to appoint someone well versed with intelligence to head ISI.”
Another retired general said it was important that Gen Munir was coming to the ISI “with complete insight of the developments that have been taking place”.
His immediate priority in office will be to fine-tune the strategy for countering the hybrid war that the country is encountering. Another major challenge for him will be evolving regional and international environment.
Gen Munir was conferred Hilal-i-Imtiaz in March this year.
The ISPR also announced the appointments of six other recently promoted three-star generals.
Lt Gen Muhammad Adnan was appointed as Vice Chief of General Staff (B), Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj as Corps Commander Mangla, Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar as Commander Peshawar Corps, Lt Gen Abdul Aziz as Military Secretary at GHQ, Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi as Chief of Logistic Staff and Lt Gen Wasim Ashraf as Inspector General Arms.
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018