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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 227, 12 October 2021

The Military Reshuffle: A strategic or routine decision?



Recent military reshuffle and the possible reasons behind it

The change of command at the ISI and army reshuffle is a significant development amidst the current political and military situation in Pakistan and also shows the influence of the Miltablishment

Abigail Miriam Fernandez
Project Associate, School of Conflict and Security Studies, NIAS

On 6 October, the Pakistan Army announced a military reshuffle in which Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum was appointed as new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who has been posted out as Commander of Peshawar-based Corps XI. The other positing includes, Nauman Mehmood, who will move to National Defence University (NDU) as its president. Incumbent NDU president Lt Gen Muhammad Saeed will take Gen Anjum’s place at Karachi corps. Adjutant General Lt Gen Muhammad Aamer has been transferred and posted as corps commander Gujranwala. He will replace Lt Gen Asim Munir, who has been placed as Quarter Master General at the GHQ. The adjutant general’s position will be held by newly-promoted Lt Gen Muhammad Asim Malik.

The new ISI chief: Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum
Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, was commissioned in service in September 1988 from the Pakistan Military Academy’s 78th Long Course and the Punjab Regiment. Previously, Gen Anjum commanded a brigade in Kurram Agency, led Frontier Corps (North) in Balochistan and remained commandant of Command and Staff College Quetta before becoming corps commander Karachi in December 2020. Thus, having experience in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi.

The Military Reshuffle: A strategic or routine decision?
The recent military shuffle can be termed as a routine move that has been strategically made, for the following reasons.

First, the political landscape. Domestically, Pakistan is slowly preparing itself for the general elections in 2023. In this light, the shuffle can be seen as a means to get matters in place before the big event. Lt Gen Anjum would have another two years of service left, thus he would retire just after the elections concluded. Additionally, the anti-Miltablishment narrative that the opposition has been vocalising, particularly accusing Gen Hameed for unconstitutional conduct pushing the Miltablishment to review its political options. However, given that the announcement did not come from the Prime Minister’s Office raises questions on consensus on the same.

Second, the calculated military postings. Three lieutenant generals are set to retire in October while seven more three-star officers will retire from service before Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa completes his tenure in November 2022. Given the circumstance, Lt Gen Faiz was due for a posting out of the ISI as he had yet to command a corps since getting his third star, given that he is a potential contender for the COAS position along with Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood. Meanwhile, it is believed that Gen Bajwa may want Lt Gen Anjum as his main person, given that he is his nominee thereby directing the ISI to pursue his own objectives and priorities. Additionally, the other postings have been made strategically, with most of them being posted in familiar territory.

Third, the Afghan factor. Given the Miltablishment role in Afghanistan, Gen Hameed's move to the Peshawar Corps provides the strategic depth required for Pakistan to engage with Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Gen Hameed who was closely engaged with the Afghan developments, would be directly in touch with the Miramshah shura of the Taliban, the Haqqania madrassa in Akora Khattak, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and would also be a part of the negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban- Pakistan.

The Miltablishment in Pakistan: Can it be an institution?
Thus, the shuffle is both routine but strategically thought-out. This is expected given the challenges Pakistan is witnessing both domestically and externally. However, this said, the emphasis given to the reshuffle in the country is one that should be mentioned. This highlights the role that the Miltablishment plays in the affairs of the state. An editorial in Dawn says, “In Pakistan, sadly the debate is focused on the political impact of such appointments and how the new person would approach these aspects which have over the years become part and parcel of intelligence work,” adding, “the latest appointment, and the frenzy surrounding it, is a reminder to all citizens, and especially those in decision-making positions, that Pakistan must strive to move beyond a state of functional existence where clearly defined institutional boundaries and limitations are cast aside with impunity at the altar of some vague expediency.”

This proves that the Miltablishment will continue to be an influential player in Pakistani politics, however, if the Miltablishment is seeking to play the role of an institute, the nature of its work would need to be altered in a way to fulfil both constitutional obligations as well as better Pakistan.

References
Fahd Husain, “Red Zone Files: The Big Reshuffle,” Dawn, 7 October 2021
 “Military reshuffle,” Dawn, 7 October 2021
 “Imran Khan and Pakistan military in standoff over new ISI chief,” Business Standard, 11 October 2021
Baqir Sajjad Syed, “ISI gets new chief in army reshuffle,” Dawn, 7 October 2021
Establishment’s role,” Dawn, 7 October 2021
In military shuffle, Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum replaces Lt Gen Faiz Hameed as top spymaster,” Dawn, 6 October 2021
Pakistan Army transfers ISI chief Faiz Hameed, appoints him as Peshawar Corps Commander,” The Print, 6 October 2021
Former DG (ISI) could succeed Gen Bajwa as Pakistan Army Chief,” Hindustan Times, 7 October 2021
Rana Banerji, “Why the ISI chief was changed,” Rediff, 8 October 2021
Najam Sethi, “Farewell to arms?,” The Friday Times, 8 October 2021

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