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Nargis Sethi. — Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD, July 27: The government appointed on Friday Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik as new defence secretary in place of Nargis Sethi who had been given the additional charge of defence ministry’s top bureaucrat in January this year.

Ms Sethi was assigned the job after the dismissal of Lt-Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi at the peak of a civil-military standoff over the infamous memogate affair.

Gen Asif Malik retired from active service last December as commander of the Peshawar-based 11 Corps. While commanding the corps, he oversaw counter-insurgency operations in tribal areas.

The new defence secretary, who had attended training courses in the US, will hit the ground running with signing next week a bilateral MoU with the US on transit of cargo.

The MoU was approved by the federal cabinet this week.

Gen Malik’s colleagues describe him as a soldier to the core and a no-nonsense man.

In another important appointment announced by the government on Friday, Information Group Officer Shafqat Jalil was made press secretary to the prime minister. He replaces Akram Shaheedi who was working on contract.