The Pakistan government on Wednesday said the process to appoint the new chief of spy agency ISI was underway, amid widespread speculation that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the powerful Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa were not on the same page over the key posting.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, in a tweet, announced that the consultation between the Civilian and Military leadership over the appointment of Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been completed.
"The consultations between the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff on the appointment of a new DG ISI have been completed and the process for a new appointment has begun," he said.
Chaudhry tried to play down the reported differences over the appointment. "The civil-military leadership has once again proven that all institutions are united for the country's stability, integrity and progress," he said in another tweet.
The Pakistan Army last week announced that Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum was appointed as the new Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in place of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who was appointed as Peshawar Corps Commander.
However, the notification of Anjum's appointment has not been issued by the office of Prime Minister Khan, giving credence to rumors about differences between the civilian government and the army over the key appointment.
According to law, the Prime Minister has the legal right and prerogative to appoint the ISI chief in consultation with the Army chief.
In a post-Cabinet Meeting press conference on Tuesday, Chaudhry explained the government's position after the government kept mum on the issue.
"The prime minister has the authority to appoint the DG ISI and he held a detailed meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in this regard,” Chaudhry said.
"The federal government will follow a legal and constitutional procedure on the appointment of the Inter-Services Intelligence director general," he said.
Meanwhile, according to a media report, Prime Minister Khan had told the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday that he wanted Lt Gen Hameed to continue as ISI DG due to the critical situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Talking to the Dawn newspaper, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chief Whip in the National Assembly, Amir Dogar, said Prime Minister Khan and Gen. Bajwa held a detailed meeting late on Monday night on the matter.
The meeting was also confirmed by Minister Chaudhry during his press meet after the Cabinet Meeting, stating that the issue of appointment of new ISI DG Lt Gen Anjum had been resolved and that the prime minister enjoyed the authority to appoint the chief of the country's premier spy agency in accordance with law and Constitution.
Also sharing details of the meeting, Dogar, who also serves as the Prime Minister's Aide on Political Affairs, said, “The body language of the prime minister was quite positive and he seemed confident.”
The prime minister wants to take all institutions on board and that he and Gen Bajwa enjoy a relationship of respect and dignity, Dogar had said.
The PTI Chief Whip said the prime minister had told the Cabinet that he was an elected prime minister and chief executive of the country.
Asked what the constitutional and legal procedure was to appoint DG ISI, Dogar explained that a report had to be sent to the prime minister with three names out of which he had to select one probable whom he deemed fit for the office.
However, he said, he did not know whether the report would be issued by the relevant office by Wednesday (today) or not.
(With PTI Inputs)