Pakistan’s newly appointed army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on December 9 abruptly removed Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar as Pakistan spy agency ISI head, and instead appointed him as the President of the National Defence University (NDU).
While making some significant changes in Pakistan Army’s top brass, General Bajwa did a major reshuffle but initially did not name Lt Gen Akhtar’s successor in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The announcement was made by the army in a statement which said Lt Gen Akhtar has now been appointed as the President of NDU, while Lt Gen Bilal Akbar has been appointed the Chief of General Staff.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Nazir Butt, former President of the NDU, has been appointed as the Corps Commander in Peshawar (11Corps) and replaced Lt Gen Hidayat-ur-Rehman, who has now been appointed as the Inspector-General of Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at General Headquarters (GHQ).
In other major changes, Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who was heading Pakistan army’s media wing, has now been appointed as the Inspector-General Arms (IG Arms) at GHQ.
Even as General Bajwa made significant changes in top army posts, he initially did not name new army heads for ISI, ISPR and Rangers in Sindh.
It was only on December 11, two days after removing Lt. Gen Rizwan for the ISI head post, that he appointed Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as new ISI chief.
The decision to change Lt Gen Akhtar comes just weeks after the Dawn newspaper reported that he had been asked by the Nawaz Sharif-led government to either act against terrorists or face international diplomatic isolation.
The newly appointed ISI chief Lt Gen Mukhtar possess a strong experience in the field of intelligence, he was first commissioned back in 1983 in Pakistan’s Armoured Corps regiment and has even headed the counter- terrorism wing of the spy agency in Islamabad in past.