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Has Bajwa sidelined Faiz Hameed?

By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
The recent revelation by the Pakistani media that the director general of the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), Lt Gen Faiz Hammed, will be made commander of 11 corps in Peshawar might seem like a master stroke played by Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The outgoing ISI chief is considered a close confidante of Imran Khan; the 'selected' prime minister of the country. Together with Khan the DG ISI promote the pro-Taliban narrative and striving for both domestic and international support for the new administration in Kabul.

Faiz Hameed is said to have played an instrumental role in forming the much criticised Haqqani faction dominant cabinet in Kabul.

With Faiz Hameed stationed in Peshawar Bajwa has effectively removed him from the corridors of power in Islamabad. As a simple corps commander Lt Gen Hameed will not be visiting the prime minister house and since the DG of ISI is under the direct command of the prime minister of the country Hameed's independent position as the DG of ISI will wither away. Now Faiz is under the command of his arch rival, the army Chief Gen Bajwa himself.

Hence, Gen Faiz's posting to Peshawar as commander of 11 Corps perhaps also indicates that General Bajwa might have given in to vocal protests by PML (N) regarding Lt Gen Hameed interfering in Punjab politics. By throwing Lt Gen Hameed out of Punjab deprives him of playing any role in the internal politics of Punjab. Therefore, Faiz has been robbed of any opportunity to influence the political contest between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

Lt Gen Hameed's posting to Peshawar is thus good news for PML (N) and bad news for Imran Khan. He has very intelligently been pushed away by General Bajwa to the frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where he will find himself busy repairing the border fences.

Another aspect is that as the US has now withdrawn from Afghanistan, 11 Corps has lost its importance as a corps responsible for managing a front line for the Afghan Taliban. Secondly, the importance of 11 corps has also declined since the money making opportunities in the form of military aid and otherwise that were available during American troops presence in Afghanistan have also dried out.

The question however is whether Lt Gen Hammed succeeds in his endeavor to become the next army chief of Pakistan? Probably not. General Bajwa is promoting Shia Lt General Azhar Abbas the newly appointed Chief of General Staff to become the next army chief. That is if Bajwa himself does not go for another extension as the army chief.

Lt Gen Hameed is close to Imran Khan as former ensured the 'selection' of the latter. Faiz is linked to jihadi groups like Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan whereas Bajwa has allegedly married into an Ahmadi family. Bajwa is still unhappy over Faiz's Kabul visit without seeking his permission gesturing foolishly holding a cup of tea at the Serena Hotel.

Bajwa is also unhappy over alleged sex related misconduct of Lt gen Hameed with Tajik women staying at the same hotel during his visit to Kabul. Scandals regarding Faiz being shot by his wife after a row over his extra marital affairs with a lady at a farm house are said to have enraged General Bajwa.

General Bajwa is said to be unhappy with Faiz for his mishandling of the case of Maj Gen Manzoor Ahmed, a Sindhi who has filed a petition at the Lahore High Court challenging his forceful dismissal.

General Bajwa is said to be extremely upset with Lt Gen Hammed for the latter's failure in ensuring secrecy of the SSG operations during the Taliban offensive in Panjshir.

The army chief is said to have become suspicious of Lt Gen Hammed after he failed to nip the plan to stage a coup by army officers against him in June 2021 in the bud.

For now, General Bajwa might seem to have foxtrotted Lt Gen Faiz Hameed into oblivion but only time will tell how the final act of this story of lust for power be written.

(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK.)