Army and Imran in Eyeball-to-Eyeball Confrontation

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Army and Imran Khan face to face on new intelligence chief, opposition unites to remove Pak PM

Army and Imran Khan face to face on new intelligence chief, opposition unites to remove Pak PM
There has been a lot of tension over Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. In an unprecedented move, the opposition coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, demanded the resignation of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISII) chief at a public rally in Punjab’s Faisalabad city. The new intelligence chief, Nadeem Anjum, is said to be close to Bajwa, but not to Khan’s liking.
Is Imran Khan – elected by the military and installed in power – now in a face-off with Pakistan’s General Headquarters? The opposition is convinced as it plans to come together to oust Khan. There is a lot of churning going on in the political circles in Pakistan as the opposition is sensing a possible victory. At the moment nothing is clear.
Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Muslim League of Pakistan, dared to face the army. His early political career began under military dictator Zia-ul Haq. Thereafter, Nawaz Sharif became his own man and strongly opposed the military’s interference in civil affairs. Rawalpindi never allowed Sharif to complete his term. It is well known that the military had a major role in the 2018 parliamentary elections in ousting Nawaz Sharif and electing Imran Khan as prime minister. Sharif and his daughter Maryam have always maintained that the army conspired with Imran Khan to remove Nawaz Sharif from office.
The current dispute is the date of the high-level military transfer announced by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on 6 October. In other developments, ISI’s top boss Faiz Hameed is set to be replaced by Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. The common practice in Pakistan is that the Prime Minister of the country has to choose one of three names given by the Army Chief. This is in accordance with a common convention and not as per the institutional procedure. This is the first time that a civilian government (led by Imran Khan) and military leadership are not together. Khan has suddenly become aware of the fact that he is a democratically elected leader and that the election of the Director General is his prerogative. There were statements from ministers from the ruling party that the prime minister has the final word on the appointment of the intelligence chief.
For several days, there has been a period of tension between the government and the army over the replacement of the chief of ISI. The army chief had recently announced the replacement of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed from the post of ISI chief and replacing him with Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. However, till now a notification has not been issued by the PM Office in this regard. It is clear that there is a tussle going on between the government and the army on this issue. Not only this, Imran Khan himself had said that he wanted General Hameed to be the head of ISI in the current situation.
Imran Khan’s insistence on Faiz Hameed to remain as intelligence chief is not surprising, given that he was at the top ISI position that helped Khan achieve his prime ministerial ambitions. Hameed remained mostly behind the scenes. He played a key role in removing Sharif from office. The idea here would be to help Hameed stay in office so that Khan could navigate the political quagmire created by rising prices, poor governance and more vocal opposition. The pretext for keeping Hameed in public is the crisis in Afghanistan.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Maryam Sharif had filed a petition in which she had indirectly dragged Hameed. Seeking to set aside the judgment against herself and her father in a corruption case, Maryam declared in her new application that she was providing the court with some extremely relevant information. He attached a speech given by former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui where he claimed that the ISI was involved in manipulating judicial proceedings. The judge had claimed that the ISI was involved in trying to convict Nawaz Sharif.
The new intelligence chief Nadeem Anjum is said to be close to Bajwa, but he is not Khan’s favourite. Pakistan’s daily publication, Dawn read in a recent editorial, “Many will not be taken aback by Khan’s argument that he wanted the same DG ISI to remain in office because of the Afghan situation. Millions of his countrymen and women who claim to have been elected believe that the destiny of him and his government is so closely intertwined with that of a single person.” That’s exactly what the opposition wants to know.


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