The General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army announced on the night of September 29,2008, that Major-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, theDirector-General of Military Operations (DGMO), has been promoted as Lt.General and posted as the Director-General of the Inter-ServicesIntelligence (ISI) in place of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who has been transferred and posted as the Commander of the XXX Corps based atGujranwala.
2. The change at the top of the ISI was part of a reshuffle involving 14 senior officers of the Army initiated by Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, theChief of the Army Staff (COAS), after meeting Yousef Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, shortly after Kayani's return from a week-long visit toChina. The announcement of the changes, which were projected by a spokesman of the army as routine changes necessitated by theimpending retirement of some senior officers, was made when President Asif Ali Zardari had not yet returned from his visit to the US. Underthe changes introducted by Gen.(retired) Pervez Musharraf, when he was the President and the COAS, the powers for the approval of allpromotions and postings in the ranks of Major-General and above are with the President. The COAS is competent to order all promotions andpostings upto the rank of Brigadier. Even though an impression has been sought to be given that all promotions and postings announced onSeptember 29,2008, were made with the approval of or in consultation with Prime Minister Gilani, it is very likely that Zardari's approval hadbeen obtained either before he left for New York or while he was there.
3. Among other important changes, Lt Gen Yousuf, present Vice-Chief of General Staff, has been appointed as Corps Commander Bahawalpurin place of Lt Gen Raza Khan, who has been shifted as DG Joint Staff Headquarters. Maj-General Javed Iqbal, presently posted as GOCJhelum, has been appointed as Director-General Military Operations (DG MO). Commander 10 Corps (Rawalpindi) Lt Gen Mohsin Kamal hasbeen moved to General Headquarters as Military Secretary (MS) and in his place newly promoted Lt-General Tahir Mehmood has beenappointed as Commander Rawalpindi Corps.
4.Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad has been appointed as the VCGS and the newly promoted Lt General Mustafa Khan has been posted as the Chiefof the General Staff (CGS) in place of Lt Gen Salahuddin Satti, who will retire from the Army next week. The reshuffle involved the promotionof seven Majors-General to the rank of Lieutenants-General. They are Major General Tahir Mahmood (Infantry - present Commander SpecialServices Group), Major-General Shahid Iqbal (Infantry - Chief Instructor National Defence University), Major General Tanvir Tahir (EME - DGC4Is), Major-General Zahid Hussain (Artillery - Commandant Pakistan Military Academy), Major General Ahmad Shuja Pasha (Infantry - DGMilitary Operations), Major-General Mohammad Mustafa Khan (Armoured Corps - ISI), and Major-General Ayyaz Saleem Rana (Armoured Corps- ISI). Major-Generals Nusrat Naeem (ISI), Asif Akhtar (ISI), Khalid Jaffari (Anti-Narcotics Force)), Shoukat Sultan (GOC Lahore) andMohammad Saddique (GHQ - former acting Chairman National Accountability Bureau ) have been superseded. They will, however, continueto serve as Majors-General.
5. Of the five senior officers in the ISI----one of the rank of Lt.General and four of the rank of Maj.Gen---Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj has been movedout, Maj.Gen.Mustafa Khan has been promoted as Lt.Gen. and appointed as the CGS, who acts as the eyes and ears of the COAS in the GHQ,and Maj.Gen.Ayyaz Saleem has been promoted and posted as the Chairman of the heavy industry complex at Taxila.Majs.Gen.NusratNaeem and Asif Akhtar have been superseded. They have been allowed to continue till their superannuation as Majs.Gen., but it is notknown whether they will continue in the ISI or will be shifted out. Among other superseded Majs-Gen is Mohammad Saddique, who used tobe in the National Accountability Bureau and was handling the corruption cases against Benazir Bhutto and Zardari.
6. Gen.Kayani will have in the important posts of the CGS, the DG,ISI, and Corps Commander, Rawalpindi, persons, who owe their promotionas Lts.Gen. to him and not to Musharraf. The CGS, the DG ISI and the Corps Commander Rawalpindi constitute an informal triumviratewithout whom, according to conventional wisdom, no COAS can stage a coup. The persons appointed to these posts as well as to the postof the DGMO are generally viewed as confirmed loyalists of the COAS.
7. Lt.Gen.Nadeen Taj, who is distantly related to Musharraf, served as the DG ISI for less than a year. He took over as the DG, ISI, on October8, 2007,after his promotion to the rank of Lt.Gen. Till then, he served as the Commandant, Pakistan Military Academy, with the rank ofMaj.Gen.
8. Lt.Gen.Pasha, who was promoted from the rank of Brigadier to that of Maj.Gen. by Musharraf in January,2003, is due to retire onSeptember 29, 2012.He has commanded an infantry brigade, a mechanised infantry brigade and an infantry division and has served as theChief Instructor of the Command and Staff College.In 2001-2002, as a Brigadier, he served as a Contingent and Sector Commander with theUnited Nations Mission in Sierra Leone. In October,2007, Musharraf agreed to a request from Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, torelieve Pasha from the post of the DGMO so that he could be appointed as the Military Adviser, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, inthe UN headquarters, in place of General Per Arne Five of Norway. An announcement on his posting in the UN headquarters was also madeby the office of the UN Secretary-General.
9. But, this posting did not materialise. In view of the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) coming under the control of theTaliban-affiliated Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana Fazlullah, Musharraf ordered a special military operationagainst the TNSM and asked Pasha in his capacity as the DGMO to co-ordinate it. Pasha got Sufi Mohammad, former chief of the TNSM, whowas in detention since 2002, released and sought his help in the operation. In January,2008, Pasha announced that his troops had defeatedthe TNSM and freed the Swat Valley from the control of the TNSM. His claim came to haunt him shortly thereafter when the TNSM, whichhad withdrawn into the hills, staged a come-back and re-established its control over large areas of the Swat. Fighting there is still going on.In August,2008, shortly after the return of Gilani from a visit to Washington DC, Gen.Kayani ordered another special operation against theTehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Qaeda in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and asked Pasha toco-ordinate it too. Despite repeated claims of the Army having inflicted heavy casualties on the TTP and Al Qaeda, the two have beenputting up a determined fight against the Army and the Frontier Corps .
10. The "Dawn" of Karachi reported on September 29 as follows: "Military operations against militants have been a mixed bag of successesand setbacks; however no timeframe could be given with regard to the ongoing campaigns, sources in the military said. ‘It is a continualoperation. It is not going to end in 2008 and it is not going to end in 2009. Don’t be optimistic, as far as the timeframe is concerned. It is adifferent ground and it will take some time’, military sources said in a media briefing." Thus, as the DGMO, Pasha has had a colourlessrecord. That, despite this, he has been posted as the DG,ISI, shows his closeness and loyalty to Kayani, who had taken him for his secretmeeting with Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on board a US Aircraft Carrier, on August 26,2008, and notLt.Gen.Nadeem Taj.
11. The removal of Nadeem Taj has come in the wake of reports about US concerns and unhappiness over the alleged role of the ISI in theattempt to blow up the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008, and over leakage of information shared by the US intelligence with the ISI tothe Taliban. President Bush was reported to have taken up this matter with Prime Minister Gilani, when he visited Washington DC in the lastweek of July as well as with Zardari whom he met in the margins of the current UN General Assembly session. While removing Taj from thepost of DG,ISI, Kayani has taken care not to create a feeling of humiliation in him by posting him as the Commander of an important Corps,but as the Corps Commander at Gujranwala he will not have much to do with Afghanistan or the ongoing military operations in the tribal belt.Kayani has removed him from any role in the operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
12. The removal of Taj from the ISI has also come in the wake of reports of Chinese unhappiness as expressed to Kayani during hisweek-long visit to China from September 21,2008, over the lack of a sense of urgency shown by the ISI in rescuing the two Chineseengineers kidnapped by the TTP on August 29. They were working for a Chinese cellular company in the Dir area of the NWFP. The TTPkidnapped them while they were travelling and removed them to the Swat valley. The TTP has been demanding the release of over 130Taliban members presently in the custody of the Pakistani security agencies in return for their release.
13. The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad and Chinese engineers working in Pakistan have also been reportedly expressing their unhappinessover the lack of a sense of urgency shown by the Gilani Government as a whole in getting the Chinese engineers released. They have beenpointing out as to how Musharraf always gave the first priority to requests from China for assistance and to the commando action orderedby him on the Lal Masjid of Islamabad when some of the students, including Uighurs, in the madrasas of the masjid, kidnapped someChinese women working in Islamabad, and comparing this to the lethargic response of Gilani and Zardari. They feel that Gilani and Zardarihave been giving a greater importance to US interests and concerns than to those of the Chinese.
14. In a report on the subject carried by the 'News" of September 24, 2008, Rahimullah Yusufzai, the well-informed Pakistani journalist, saidas follows: " A Chinese journalist, who requested anonymity, said the Pakistan Government hasn't shown any urgency in getting the twoyoung engineers freed. He recalled how the issue of the two Chinese engineers kidnapped by late Pakistani Taliban commander AbdullahMahsud's men in South Waziristan in 2004 was resolved within a few days. "The recent case of kidnapping of Chinese engineers hasn't beenresolved even after more than three weeks. We were hoping our citizens would have been freed by now, he said."
15. Before his election as the President, Zardari had stated that his first official visit as the President would be to China to underline theimportance attached by him to Pakistan's relations with China. He did not keep his word and instead went on a private visit to the UnitedArab Emirates and the UK and then on an official visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly session. Pakistani officials have been explaining this away by claiming that his visit to New York was not a bilateral visit to the US and that his first official bilateral visit wouldstill be to China. (30-9-08)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )