The Pakistan army has appointed a new intelligence agency chief in a major reshuffle in the powerful institution. Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar is taking over as the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency from Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar.
Mukhtar had earlier served as the chief of ISI's counter-terrorism arm before taking up the job of commanding the corps in Karachi. He has also held several other positions in the army before becoming the country's top spymaster.
Mukhtar's appointment was announced by the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, late on Sunday, 11 December.
This is the first major reshuffle in the Pakistan army's top brass after the new military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa took charge on 29 November. In addition to the ISI head's position, Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar has been named for another vital position — Chief of General Staff (CGS). The latest churning in the military reportedly shows that Bajwa is building his own team.
The military, which has successfully staged three coups since the country's independence in 1947, plays an influential role in running the country including control over domestic security matters and intelligence agencies. The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of the post-Independence era, also wields enormous influence over the defence and foreign policies of the country.
India has often accused the ISI of using Islamic militants against the country. The ISI has also been accused of providing support to Afghan Taliban insurgents in the past.