Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam (Islam) has been appointed as Pakistan’s director general of the Internal Services Intelligence (ISI) by the Pakistani Prime Minister. The director general is the head of the ISI and is widely regarded as the second most powerful position in Pakistan’s military. Islam is considered a “safe choice” by Pakistani political experts particularly due to his experience within the military and ISI, as well as his media savvy. Islam is expected to aide in the continued mending of the ISI’s relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S. (CIA) and to facilitate peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.
The ISI relationship with the CIA has seen a flurry of events that have lead to its recent deterioration beginning with the shooting of two Pakistani’s by a CIA contractor in January of last year. The raid of Osama Bin Laden without the ISI’s prior notification coupled with accusations by U.S. officials claiming that a Taliban militant group was a “virtual arm” of the ISI have further bruised the relationship. Since the recent erroneous attack on Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border, discussions with the U.S. have come to a halt and it is hoped Islam will play a prominent rule in resuming and mending Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. Although officials from both the ISI and CIA have indicated that the relationship between the two organizations has improved recently, much work is still anticipated.
Furthermore, the ISI faces internal judicial proceedings surrounding corruption and financing of favored politicians in a 1990 election. Clearly, Islam is walking into the position with his plate full but questions remain surrounding Pakistan’s military future. It remains to be seen how successful Islam can be in repairing relationships with the U.S. and improving the ISI’s image both domestically and internationally.
The full article can be found here.