Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said the process of consultation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa over the appointment of the new director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) "has been completed", and that the process of a fresh appointment "is underway".
Chaudhry's update on the matter came a day after his post-cabinet meeting press conference wherein he had said that "legal procedure" will be followed for the appointment of the new DG ISI, "for which both [Gen Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran] are in agreement".
When Dawn had asked the information minister what had compelled him to say that the government would appoint DG ISI according to the Constitution and law, he replied: “Confusion created by the media, especially social media, had forced him to respond on the matter.”
“I cannot comment further on the issue; just rely on my statement in the press conference,” he had said.
In his tweet today, the information minister said: "The consultations between the prime minister and the chief of army staff on the appointment of a new DG ISI have been completed and the process for a new appointment has begun.
"The civil-military leadership has once again proven that all institutions are united for the country's stability, integrity and progress."
Last week, the military’s media affairs wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had announced that Lt Gen Anjum had been appointed the new ISI chief. Lt Gen Hameed, formerly the ISI director general, was posted as Peshawar corps commander.
However, despite the passage of days following the ISPR announcements, a notification confirming Lt Gen Anjum’s appointment as the new DG ISI was not issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, leading to feverish speculation in the federal capital.
The government had remained tight-lipped on the issue and finally broke its silence on Tuesday following a lengthy meeting between the prime minister and army chief.
The appointment of ISI director general is a prerogative of the prime minister. The spymaster’s choice is, however, made by the prime minister in consultation with the army chief.
Meanwhile, experts in defence matters say the procedure for the appointment of the ISI director general is neither mentioned in the Constitution nor the Army Act, and all past appointments were made as per traditions under which the army chief proposes three names to the prime minister who then makes the final decision.
According to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief whip in the National Assembly Amir Dogar, the prime minister informed the federal cabinet on Tuesday that he had told Gen Bajwa that he wanted Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to continue as ISI DG for some time due to the critical situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Talking to Dawn, Dogar said Prime Minister Imran and Gen Bajwa held a detailed meeting late Monday night on the matter.
The meeting was also confirmed by Chaudhry during his presser on Tuesday, stating that the issue of appointment of new ISI DG had been resolved and that the PM enjoyed the authority to appoint the chief of the country’s premier spy agency in accordance with the law and Constitution.
Dogar said the premier wanted Lt Gen Hameed to stay as DG ISI in view of the situation in Afghanistan, adding that PM Khan and Gen Bajwa enjoyed a relation of respect and dignity.
PM Imran was of the opinion that the government wanted to take all institutions on board, Dogar said. “The body language of the prime minister was quite positive and he seemed confident,” he added.
The PTI’s chief whip said the prime minister had told the cabinet that he was an elected prime minister and chief executive of the country.
Asked what the constitutional and legal procedure was to appoint DG ISI, Dogar explained that a summary had to be sent to the prime minister with three names out of which he selected one probable whom he deemed fit for the office.