Lieutenant-General Zaheerul Islam, the newly appointed spy chief, called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at the PM House on Monday after assuming his responsibilities as director-general of the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
During the meeting, Gilani said that the ISI was an important arm of the security establishment assigned to safeguard national interests in consonance with the aspirations of the country’s people. Islam discussed a range of issues with the prime minister during the meeting and thanked the prime minister for reposing confidence in him for undertaking responsibilities pertaining to the country’s national security. The prime minister also extended his best wishes to the ISI chief and expressed confidence that the premier intelligence agency would do its best to serve national interest.
A source privy to discussions between the PM and the ISI chief told The Express Tribune that even though the prime minister conveyed his best regards to Islam, he also told the newly appointed head of the agency to evolve a strategy to enhance the functional capacity and professional obligations of the agency.
“To fix the role of the ISI is not someone else’s job, it’s our top preferred agency and we know its importance,” a source quoted the prime minister as saying.
Meanwhile, Defence analyst Talat Masood believes that new spymaster will have plenty on his table to deal with and will most importantly have to address the negative propaganda, initiated by Western and Indian agencies against the ISI. Masood added that Afghanistan will also be on Islam’s agenda since the Taliban recently broke off talks with the US.
Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, 56, was born into a military family and belongs to the Punjab Regiment. He had passed out from the 55th PMA long course.
Islam commanded a division in Murree before being promoted.
He has also served as the deputy director general of the ISI between 2007 and 2008. He was then promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and was posted to Karachi.
Lt Gen Islam will be the 18th director general of the ISI since 1959 – the inaugural year when the premier spy agency was headed by Brigadier Riaz Hussain. Analysts say the incoming director-general has held some of the most important posts in the army since his commissioning in 1977, and is seen both inside and outside the military as an experienced and professional soldier.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.
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