Due to growing politico-military differences between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, there is perceived tension in Islamabad’s power corridors as Lt General Nadeem Anjum prepares to take over as DG (ISI) on November 20. The former is still in favour of retaining incumbent ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. Gen Anjum is currently the Commander of the Karachi Corps, whereas Gen Hameed is the Commander of the Peshawar Corps.
Despite the fact that Pakistan’s two biggest parties are at odds, Prime Minister Khan’s political space appears to be shrinking as a result of the country’s poor economy, high debt and inflation, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed hauling him over the coals for seeking a peace deal with the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group with the help of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the eponymous terrorist network. The fact that the Pakistani authorities essentially caved in to the demands of TLP marchers by lifting the ban on the extremist group and releasing its incarcerated leaders earlier this month has contributed to PM Khan’s electoral woes.
According to observers in Islamabad, Pakistan is on pins and needles, with all of the ISI’s key generals reporting to Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, who has already arrived in Rawalpindi to take over from Lt Gen Hameed. “In Islamabad, there is political turmoil, with rumours swirling about about the outcome of the dispute between Khan and Bajwa in the run-up to the new DG ISI. According to unconfirmed sources, the 111 Rawalpindi brigade is also on standby to deal with the worst-case scenario,” an expert stated. According to sources, the Tehreek-e-Insaaf government’s coalition allies, the MQM and the PML-Q, are exploring for new political choices.
The connection of Lt Gen Hameed to the Taliban regime in Kabul, particularly the Sirajuddin Haqqani organisation, was one of the main reasons for his removal by Gen Bajwa. While Prime Minister Khan wants Afghanistan to expand Pakistan’s strategic space against India, Gen Bajwa appears to fear that the Taliban’s toxic ideology will eventually destroy his country. The Pakistan army leader is opposed to Afghanistan’s violent extremism spreading across the Durand Line.
While Pakistani politics has been riddled with political intrigue and intrigues between the Army and civilian leadership since 1947, the coming week could determine whether PM Khan or Gen Bajwa emerges victorious.
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