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Khawaja Asif, Asif Zardari talk about ex-DG ISI Faiz Hameed in latest media interaction

ISLAMABAD – Former Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed is making headlines since he left the charge of Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to become Peshawar Corps Commander in a major army reshuffle.

Now, Defence Minister and PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif and PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari have mentioned the former spymaster as all eyes are on the Rawalpindi where another high-profile transition — the appointment of new Army Chief — is slated for later this year.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, the Defence Minister sparked a new debate with his assertion about upcoming polls and the appointment of the new Army Chief.

He revealed that the new government may hold elections before the appointment of a new Army Chief, before November.

Responding to a question about Lt General Faiz Hameed, Asif said the government would ‘definitely consider’ him for the coveted post if his name was on the seniority list. However, he maintained that the premier cannot ask the armed forces or the defence officials to change the names in the list forwarded to him for the appointment of the top general.

Khawaja also maintained that the appointment of Chief of Armed Forces must be institutionalised like the judiciary where the senior-most judge takes charge.

On the other hand, former president and seasoned politician Asif Ali Zardari asserted while addressing a presser in the country’s largest metropolis that the poor man [Lt Gen Faiz Hameed] has been sidelined.”

He, however, appreciated the armed forces for being neutral amid the latest political changes. The top PPP leader also expressed the hope that Pakistan’s armed forces would continue to be ‘apolitical’ and any problems that arose could be solved by national representatives.  

Earlier, the daughter of PML-N Chief Maryam Nawaz accused the former ISI chief of ‘orchestrating’ her conviction in a corruption reference.

A rift was also reported by international media between Pakistan’s top general and former spymaster – who was widely seen as hoping to become the next Chief of Army Staff. But there are not truth to such reports.

Former PM Imran Khan was also alleged for having a close relationship with Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, as many experts said he apparently wanted him to stay on until elections had taken place.

Amid all the assumptions, Pakistan Army has taken a strong exception to intensified and deliberate attempts to drag its name into the country’s ongoing political discourse.

In a recent press release, the military’s media wing maintained that attempts to involve the armed forces and its senior leadership in the political discourse were ‘manifest through direct, insinuated or nuanced references made by some political leaders, few journalists and analysts on public forums and various communication platforms, including social media’.

ISPR said the practice of unsubstantiated, defamatory and provocative remarks is extremely damaging for the state.

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