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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Significant changes in the Pakistani Army
A few years ago changes in the top ranks of the Pakistani Army were closely watched for the most part by India. However after the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan and following the emergence of "Taliban and al-Qaeda safe havens" in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, these changes have also been closely watched by the US, NATO, Afghanistan and others, simply because how the Pakistani Army is run and by whom and its direction have an enormous bearing on the so-called war on terror and the stability and security of the region, if not the whole world.
So in terms of regional and global stability and security, major changes or reshuffles in the top ranks of the Pakistani Army command have assumed significance and importance far beyond the country's borders. Consequently, top changes made by the Army Chief of General Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and endorsed by the government and the president should be seen in this regard.
As to the changes -- which have received substantial coverage in international media and are being closely watched and scrutinized by the US and others -- they are as follows:
Lt. Gen. Tahir Mehmood has been appointed the corps commander of Rawalpindi. He replaces Lt. Gen. Mohsin Kamal, who has been appointed military secretary (MS) at General Headquarters (GHQ). Lt. Gen. Ahsan Azhar Hyat, corps commander Karachi, has been appointed inspector general training and evaluation (IGT&E) at GHQ. Lt. Gen. Raza Mohammad Corps, commander Bahawalpur, has been appointed director-general joint staff at JHQ. Lt. Gen. Mohammad Yousaf has been appointed corps commander Bahawalpur. Lt. Gen. Mohammad Zaki, director-general infantry, has been appointed IG Arms at GHQ. Lt. Gen. Javed Zia, deputy chief of general staff, has been appointed QMG at GHQ.
In addition to these appointments, seven major generals were promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Those promoted are three major generals from the infantry, two from the armored corps and one each from artillery and electrical and mechanical engineering (EME). They are: Maj. Gen. Mohammad Mustafa Khan, Maj. Gen. Ayyaz Saleem Rana, Maj. Gen. Tahir Mahmood, Maj. Gen. Shahid Iqbal, Maj. Gen. Tanvir Tahir, Maj. Gen. Zahid Hussain and Maj. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha.
Among these changes, Lt. Gen. Pasha's promotion and his appointment as the new director-general of the powerful Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) stands out the most. Pasha, who will replace Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who has been appointed corps commander for Gujranwala, has been commanding the ongoing security operation in the tribal areas and parts of the northwest frontier region for the last two years. He seems to have been hand-picked and is well regarded by Gen. Kayani -- who himself was the head of ISI until a year ago -- for his professional abilities and determination to solve the border problems.
Lt. Gen. Pasha also commanded troops for the UN mission to Sierra Leone in 2001-2002 and was appointed last year by the world body as an adviser on UN peacekeeping operations.
As the head of ISI, Lt. Gen. Pasha will be dealing directly with the CIA about Washington's concern over the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants operating in the tribal areas. This will, of course, make him a direct partner of the CIA.
Although there is no available biography of Lt. Gen. Pasha, the way he looks at militancy in his country was revealed at a media briefing last November. Urbane and at ease with foreign reporters, he acknowledged the price Pakistan was paying for its past sponsorship of radicalism. "'We pumped in millions of dollars for establishing it, and now we are up against it," Pasha said.
With this statement, one can assume that the ISI under Lt. Gen. Pasha will be a different organization in the future. This, of course, will change many things both in Pakistan and regionally. Recent changes in the Pakistani Army's top command will have far-reaching repercussions, to say the least…

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