KARACHI: The government is about to appoint a former general as the new national security adviser, officials said on Sunday.
Lieutenant General Naseer Khan Janjua, who retired from the military this week, will be appointed national security adviser soon and will accompany Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his trip to the United States next week, one military official and two civilians said.
The post is currently held by Sartaj Aziz, who also holds the portfolio for foreign affairs.
“The army chief feels Sartaj Sahib’s attention is divided,” a military source said. “So it has been decided that General Janjua will be appointed the national security adviser and Sartaj Aziz can give his full attention to the foreign office.”
“This is not about the PM conceding to the army chief or the army being a bully, not at all. This is about both sides deciding together.”
A military spokesperson declined to comment.
PM Nawaz swept into office in 2013 vowing to improve relations between Pakistan and India.
“The army had advised the PM against engaging Modi but he (Nawaz) had insisted that he would pursue peace talks,” the official said. “He is very disappointed by Modi’s response and he has realised that perhaps the advice he got then was correct.”
A senior minister in premier’s cabinet said the army chief had pushed Janjua’s appointment “for many months,” although Nawaz had preferred to keep his own man, Aziz.
“Now the army chief has convinced the prime minister that the military and the government must … work together,” the minister said.
Janjua’s appointment follows cooling relations between Pakistan and India, who were due to hold talks in August but canceled after India said it wanted to limit the scope of the talks to terrorism and Pakistan insisted on more wide-ranging discussions.
“General Janjua will go to Afghanistan for talks. He will go to the US And yes, when Pakistan-India (national security advisor) level talks resume, it will be General Janjua at the table,” the military official said.
Two senior government officials said that Janjua was respected for his previous posting in Balochistan.
Before that, Janjua was president of the National Defense University, the military’s higher education institute and premier think-tank on national security matters.
He also worked on ‘Azm-e-Nau,’ a military preparedness exercise that had a particular focus on India.