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Imran Khan’s blue-eyed ex-ISI chief Faiz Hameed cornered, says former Pak president Asif Ali Zardari

Lt. General Faiz Hameed on a controversial vist to Kabul after the Taliban’s takeover (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@HR5231)

In a first, one of the top leaders of the new coalition government of Pakistan has dared to mock a  serving high-profile three star general of the Pakistani army, that too publicly.

When asked about the former ISI boss Lt General Faiz Hameed, the former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said: “Faiz Hameed to bechara Khudi Line Hai ( Poor Faiz Hameed has put himself in the side line).”

Former supremo of Pakistani spy agency,  Lt General  Faiz Hameed is making headlines since he left the notorious ISI to become Peshawar Corps Commander in a major army reshuffle last year. Being one of the senior most three star generals, he was being tipped as the successor to the present Pakistani army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. But after the ouster of the former premier Imran Khan last month,  Hameed’s star has dimmed. 

“Not so long ago, journalists were so afraid of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed that they wouldn't even take his name in private conversations using codewords like 'F' to refer to him. Now he is being openly mocked in press conferences. A big lesson for those who push the limits of power,” says Pakistani journalist Hamza Azhar Salam.

Bajwa is set to retire on November 22 this year,  and he has made it clear that he would not seek any further extension.  The question that is doing the rounds is, who is going to succeed General Bajwa?  When this question was asked, the new Pakistani defence minister Khawaja Asif told BBC Urdu that it’s good for the nation and military that whosoever becomes the army chief has a flawless personality and no taint on his name, making it clear the new government would not like Lt General Faiz Hameed should not become the chief.

Pakistani watchers say that for his fall from grace, Faiz Hameed is himself to be blamed. He crossed the redline, while standing with Imran Khan who had been challenging his boss,  General Bajwa. This was “unpardonable”.

“Faiz is media savvy and he did everything publicly which was not liked by his boss and other generals. He also tried to create a kind of division in the ranks, especially in the middle rank, which again went against him. There are whispers in the corridor that Hameed  will be transferred to the GHQ ( army headquarter) very soon,” says a Pakistani watcher.

Interestingly, the Pakistani army has chosen not to defend Hameed which has been issuing warnings to those who have been crticising the military leadership.

The drama began last year in October,  when army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa appointed Anjum to lead ISI replacing Lt General Hameed. Khan then delayed the appointment and publicly voiced support gor Hameed, widely seen as his ally, to stay in that role. After a standoff lasting several weeks, the army chief got his way but not before souring the relationship with his puppet Imran Khan. There were reports that Imran was going to sack the Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and replace him with his favourite, Faiz Hameed. But according to sources, he was warned against trying any such stunt.

This was the turning point of the entire relationship between Imran and General Bajwa, who then decided to back off from protecting Rawalpindi’s erstwhile protege and feed him to the opposition wolves. As for Lt General Hameed, the coming days are likely to be anything  but routine.

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