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Will everything be ok for former ISI chief Faiz Hameed? Only Pak army chief Bajwa knows

Former ISI chief Faiz Hameed

“Everything will be ok,” the then chief of Inter Services Intelligences(ISI) Faiz Hameed had flamboyantly remarked at the Serena Hotel in Kabul where he had arrived to sort out the internal feuds among the top leaders of the Taliban.  It was seen as a major victory for the Pakistani army when Hameed successfully got Haqqanis to capture the major posts in the Taliban government.

It was believed that Hameed, the crafty manipulator, was the front-runner to succeed Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. But will everything be 0k for Hameed?

Nothing is certain in Pakistan. Bajwa has one more year to go and as to who will be replacing him, he will only disclose at the right time.

There was discontent among the top generals when Bajwa got an extension for himself last year. He will be retiring next year and Hameed is one of the contenders,” said a Pakistani journalist who did not want his name to be mentioned.

“Bajwa is very clever. Now he has started the game of musical chairs. Hameed has a very tough competition,” he said.

For Bajwa and the Imran Khan-led civil government, Hameed's trip to Kabul looked like a victory lap. However, it also exposed Pakistan’s role in not only the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan but also the ISI’s nexus with the UN designated terror groups like Haqqani Network.

As a result, they have now been facing the wrath of the international community which is demanding sanctions against Pakistan.

Pakistani observers feel that to stave off these sanctions, Bajwa has decided to play a game of musical chairs and in the last two days he went for a major reshuffle in the army.  Lt Gen Faiz Hameed has been made the Peshawar Corps commander. It is also mandatory for contenders of the Pakistan Army Chief’s post to have commanded a Corps level formation for at least one year so Bajwa is keeping everyone guessing. 

According to Pakistani media, by packing off Hameed to Peshawar, Bajwa wants to keep Pakistan’s strategic depth in Afghanistan intact under its proxy regime of Taliban. Being in Peshawar, Hameed will be directly in “touch” with the Haqqanis led Miramshah shura, the Jihad factory Haqqania madarsa in Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and will be dealing with the Tehreek-e-Pakistan (TTP). The Pakistani army’s Peshawar Corps controls Khyber Pass on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border Durand Line.

While Faiz Hamid is packed off to Peshawar as the core commander of Peshawar Corps, his successor Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum has become the top contender for the most powerful post of the country. Anjum was promoted to Lt General last year and posted as Corps Commander of Pakistan’s V Corps in Karachi.  Unlike Hameed, he is a battle-hardened commander. Anjum has commanded the Frontier Corps in Balochistan and led many successful operations against Baloch fighters. In fact, he was awarded the title of “Mohsin e Balochistan” for his services to eradicate terrorism.

According to a press release, in the reshuffle, Bajwa posted Lt Gen Mohammad Amir as Gujranwala corps commander, a major offensive formation of the Pakistan Army, while Lt Gen Asim Munir was appointed as the QuarterMaster General (QMG) of the Army. 

In case Bajwa chooses not to retire next year and gives extension to himself for a year or two, Hameed won't be able to become the chief as he retires in April, 2023.

Also Read :  Kingmaker of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Spy Chief Faiz Hameed could be the next army chief