The Pakistan Army on Wednesday transferred the sitting Chief of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed out of the notorious intelligence agency. In a surprise move, Lieutenant General Hameed has now been appointed as Corps Commander of XI Corps or Peshawar Corps that is located in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province of Pakistan that oversees the Afghanistan border. Lt Gen Hameed has now been replaced by Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum who will take charge as the new director-General of ISI.

It is pertinent to note that the prime minister appoints the ISI chief, but as is customary, he exercises this authority in deliberation with the Pakistan Army chief. The position of ISI chief is regarded as one of the most significant in the Pakistan Army, which has held power for more than half of its 73-year history and has wielded significant power in matters of security and foreign policy. 

Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed
Pakistan's Former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief, Lieutenant General Faiz HameedTwitter

Is the new posting really a demotion for Lt Gen Faiz Hameed?

As the news broke out about the transfer of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed many in the strategic circle argued that this could be due to a fallout with the incumbent Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. But on closer scrutiny, it turned out to be a mere speculation.

Perhaps his appointment as Corps Commander opens the door for him to be considered for the next Army chief. The current Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa who is on the extension will be retiring in November 2022.

To be eligible to become Army Chief, one must have served as Corps Commander for at least six months under Pakistani Army law. Moreover, despite claims of a schism between Lt Gen Hameed and Army Chief Bajwa, the two are not only close, but the former is also close to Pakistan PrimeMinister Imran Khan.

COAS Pak Army
The Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed BajwaAP

To ensure Lt Gen Hameed's eligibility for the post of Pakistan Army chief, an internal attempt was made to rank the post of ISI chief equivalent to that of Corps Commander. However, due to the inability of this internal change to occur soon, he was forced to accept the position of Corps Commander.