ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan on Monday named a new head of its main intelligence agency, considered the second most powerful official in the military.
The naming of Rizwan Akhtar as director general of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency comes as a protest movement to topple the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enters its second month.
His appointment will be closely scrutinised for any clues over how it may affect the current impasse and civil-military relations, in a country where the security establishment has traditionally wielded heavy political influence.
It was announced in a tweet by army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa along with the promotions of other senior army officers. The current ISI chief Zaheer-ul-Islam is due to retire on October 1. The final decision on appointing the chief rests with the prime minister, who was presented with a list of names to chose from.
Akhtar, who was also promoted from major-general to lieutenant-general, previously headed the paramilitary Rangers force in the southern province of Sindh, where he oversaw a major operation against criminal syndicates and Taliban militants in the city of Karachi that began last year.