From Afghan peace talks to handling of JeM: What one can expect from new ISI chief
New Delhi, June 25: Lt General Faiz Hameed was handpicked by the Pakistan Army as the new chief of the ISI.
His rise to prominence began win 2017, during a protest by a religious group in Islamabad. A group called the Tehreek-e-Labbaik was protesting against a change in the oath of office in the Election Act. It was Hameed who helped broker a deal.
The then government led by Shahid Abbasi had to give into the demands. The protests also led to the resignation of the then law minister, Zahid Hamid. The agreement bears the signature of Hameed as the guarantor. In the document, Hameed had showered praise on the Army and expressed gratitude towards General Bajwa for the special efforts and also for saving the nation from a major catastrophe.
Hameed is said to be a blue eyed boy of Bajwa's. Like Bajwa, he too is from the Baloch regiment.
He was handpicked by Bajwa for a host of reasons. Hameed is a hardliner and more importantly would tow Bajwa's line. There is talk in Pakistan that Bajwa is looking for an extension as his term comes to an end in a few months. Hameed would be tasked with the key role of ensuring none within the Army stands in the way of an extension.
Hameed wields a great deal of influence and the Pakistan has looked to send out a very strong message in this appointment. Not only would Hameed be used to boost terror in Kashmir, but his services would come in handy to crush dissidence within Pakistan as well.
In the past few years, the ISI has been accused of trying to control the press and also influence last year's elections in Pakistan. There has also been a major crackdown on human rights activists and going by Hameed's style of functioning such incidents would continue unabated.
He replaced Lt General Asim Munir, who was the chief for just 8 months. While Pakistan has not spelt out the reason behind the re-shuffle, analysts term Hameed as a hardliner.
His appointment also comes in the wake of Indo-Pak relations remaining tense and also at an all time low. Hameed is considered as a very powerful personality within the ISI and also wields a great amount of influence.
Officials in India say that with the appointment of a hardliner, Pakistan is sending a message that it would not be backing down. He has the backing of the Pakistan Army and this signals that Pakistan would try and create more trouble along the border as well as Jammu and Kashmir.
In Hameed's appointment and the sudden replacement of Munir, it suggests that there would be no re-conciliatory note from Pakistan. Indian officials say that one could expect a more aggressive stand from Pakistan on key issues.
India would also watch the role he plays in the Afghan peace talks. He is in charge of safeguarding Pakistan's interests in the ongoing talks between the US and Taliban.
Further, it would also be crucial to watch the role he plays where the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are concerned. Pakistan was recently told by the Financial Action Task Force to do more on terror funding. Pakistan was warned that it would be downgraded to the blacklist if it failed to act before October. In this contest it would be important to see how Hameed handles both the JeM and Lashkar-e-Tayiba, which are Pakistan's biggest proxies operating in India.