What’s Behind Lt Gen Faiz Hamid replacing Asim Munir as DG ISI, Pakistan? | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

What’s Behind Lt Gen Faiz Hamid replacing Asim Munir as DG ISI, Pakistan?

Published Jun 17, 2019
Updated Apr 13, 2020

Internal rather than external factors may be the cause of  truncated tenure of Lt Gen Asim Munir and nomination of Faiz Hamid as DG ISI.

Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid appointed as Director General [ISI] Inter Services Intelligence said a cryptic press release by the Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DG, ISPR) in what could be seen as the second most important appointment in the Pakistan Army after the Army Chief.

Lieutenant General Aamir Abbasi appointed as Quarter Master General (QMG) Pakistan Army. Lieutenant General Moazzam Ejaz appointed as Engineer in Chief. Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir Ahmed Shah appointed as Corps Commander Gujranwala. Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza appointed as Adjutant General Pakistan Army read rest of the release.

The relief of Lt General Syed Asim Munir Ahmed Shah as DG ISI came as a surprise as he had only completed eight months of the normal three year tenure having been appointed in October last year to replace Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar who proceeded on retirement.

The premature turnover of the DG ISI has naturally led to speculation, from a rift between the Army Chief Genral Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt Gen Asim Munir to experience and competence of Faiz Hamid in managing the internal and external environment.

Lt General Faiz Hamid belongs to the Baloch Regiment of which the Army Chief is the Colonel, thus there is expected to be greater understanding between the two.

He has also been serving in the ISI before promotion as head of the internal security and counter terrorism wing.

Most importantly Faiz Hamid as the Major General signed the agreement with the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) who had a sit in at Faislabad in 2017.

TLP assumed centre stage after they commenced protests over a constitutional amendment, Elections Act 2017, in Form-A submitting nomination for elections the words, “I solemnly swear” had been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate’s belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and it had been made not applicable to non-Muslim candidates.

On hearing of the clashes between the police and the protestors on the streets, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned then Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from the United Arab Emirates to “handle the Islamabad dharna peacefully,” virtually reversing the chain of command so to say and showing the countries elected Prime Minister in a very poor light.

A decision was taken to hold talks with the protesting groups and an agreement was signed  which had the signatures of, “ Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Secretary Interior Arshad Mirza, Markazi Ameer of Tahreek Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Patron-in-Chief Pir Afzal Qadri, Markazi Nazim-e-Aala Muhammad Waheed Anwar and Major General Faiz Hameed who acted as a mediator.”

In 2018, also TLP called off sit-ins after the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 31 overturned a blasphemy conviction for Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of four, who spent eight years on death row, though if Faiz Hameed played any role is not clear.

As of now the most important internal challenge faced by the Pakistan Army is from another key organisation Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), a civil rights group found in 2018. Its support base is mostly among the Pashtun ethnic minority concentrated largely in northwest Pakistan.

The PTM has been holding dozens of rallies across the country demanding basic rights for ethnic Pashtuns in a peaceful manner.

It has denounced the army’s heavy-handed operations in the militancy-hit tribal regions, called for judicial probes into those killed by the military, and campaigned for ending enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and discrimination against Pashtuns.

PTM also insists on de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter. The PTM has also demanded the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission.

In a recent clash with the military two members of the National Assembly of the PTM, Mohsin Dawar and  Ali Wazir have been accused of being involved in an attack on a checkpoint in the volatile region and have been arrested.

Another internal issue is opposition parties joining hands against the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) government after key leaders including former President and co chair of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryaz Talpur were arrested recently. It is commonly believed that the PTI government was installed by the Pakistan Army.

Given this backdrop a change in guard of the ISI even as General Bajwa is set to retire (or get a three year extension of tenure) could have been undertaken.

Global Village Space a web portal based in Islamabad Pakistan for “disseminating information and knowledge,” quotes a tweet by Lawrence Sellin, retired US army veteran that the appointment of Hameed is a, “bid to intensify the counter-terrorism measures of the Pakistan army, particularly with regards to the “internal dissent” created by PTM and Baloch uprisings”.

Jan Achakzai, geo-strategic analyst and Chairman of Centre for Geo-Politics & Balochistan, on the other hand is quoted by Global Village Space as appointment of Faiz Hamid will, “give sleepless nights to India and intensify the counter terrorism campaign in the tribal areas.

There has been a surge in the violence in Balochistan and the Waziristan belt (North and South) in Pakistan of late.

Also Read Terrorism Redux in Pakistan in 2019

Whatever the case be the appointment of Lt Gen Faiz Hamid as the DG ISI has created ripples in the intelligence circles in the Pakistan military and polity.

However as the old warhorse Asif Ali Zardari once remarked Generals come and go but political leaders will be on the scene forever.