Several top military leaders were posted to new offices earlier this week, with the most notable change coming at Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), where Lt Gen Faiz Hameed made way for Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. The latter was the Karachi corps commander before being shifted to the spy agency. However, the big news was about Gen Faiz, whose new posting as Peshawar corps commander makes him one of the potential contenders to lead the army when Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension ends in November 2022. This is because serving as a corps commander is considered a prerequisite for becoming army chief, and Gen Faiz had not previously held such a post.
But moving back from possible future developments to present, apart from Gen Faiz, we also see new corps commanders in Gujranwala and Karachi, a new quartermaster general, a new adjutant general, and a new National Defence University president. But all eyes will now be on Gen Nadeem, who inherits a particularly challenging situation after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and continuing tensions with India. Gen Faiz had come into the role after previously serving as the ISI’s director-general of counterintelligence for over two years, meaning that he was already intimately familiar with the workings of the spy agency and could hit the ground running.
Gen Nadeem’s top roles have all been frontline, leading infantry brigades during Zarb-e-Azb and serving as the Balochistan Frontier Corps inspector general during Raddul Fasaad. However, while at Aabpara, he will have to work in the shadows to help secure the homeland from foreign and domestic threats, especially those emerging from the ever-evolving situation in Afghanistan and the erratic decision-makers in New Delhi.
Gen Faiz oversaw what could broadly be considered successes with regard to Afghanistan, including the US-Taliban peace deal, which Pakistan helped broker, and the US withdrawal. Unfortunately, the quick collapse of the anti-Pakistan Ghani government at the hands of the Taliban, though seen as a positive by some, has created new potential threats. Similarly, improvements in ties with India due to extensive backchannel contacts turned out to be short-lived, as the Modi government went back to scapegoating Pakistan for New Delhi’s policy failures.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2021.
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