Pakistan Picked The Right Spy Chief And Got The Right People Upset
The appointment of Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed as the new Director General (DG) of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency last week was an ordinary leadership rotation that barely attracted any attention at all, except among the country's liberals and the Indian media, with the two coming together through Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa's article for ThePrint titled "New ISI chief Faiz Hameed a manipulator picked by army chief Bajwa to be his master’s voice". As can be expected from the provocative title, the piece is a sophisticated infowar assault on multiple targets such as civil-military relations, ISI, and the Army, with the intent being to drive wedges between them. There's also an evident effort to sow dissension in the higher ranks of the Pakistan Armed Forces by implying that Lt. Gen. Hameed wasn't promoted on the basis of merit and experience but solely because of his friendship with Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Bajwa. Furthermore, the author asserts that the military controls the ruling PTI party and predicts that the new DG ISI will directly meddle in civil society in order to keep its "new political mechanism" in power.
Several very important observations can be intuited from this article, first and foremost that an alliance has formed between Pakistan's liberals and the Indian media. Dr. Siddiqa is an active member of the US-based "South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights" (SAATH) Forum, an ultra-liberal platform run by former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hassan Haaqani who describes himself on his official website as "an India-friendly Pakistani currently living in exile in the US". It should be noted that former Amb. Haqqani was found guilty by a Pakistani court of authoring a memo in 2012 requesting American support against his homeland's military, which resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest and his formal designation as an international fugitive when he failed to comply. Interpol, most likely under pressure from former Amb. Haqqani's American patrons, refused to act on Pakistan's request, so the man who's been cynically described as "Washington's Ambassador to Pakistan" remains free to continue operating his ultra-liberal platform and engaging in other provocative activities.
The other questionable connection that Dr. Siddiqa has is with ThePrint, which published her article and is run by Shekhar Gupta, an anti-Pakistani hawk who encouraged India to nuke its neighbor in an op-ed that he released earlier this year titled "Suicidal Pakistan should know Modi may not be scared of its nuclear button". Her official website describes her storied career in the civil service that even included a stint as "director of naval research at the Naval headquarters, Islamabad", and while SAATH's "Reaffirmation for a Liberal, Democratic, Secular, Progressive Pakistan" has a point in principle with concluding on the note that "dissent is patriotic", the case can be made that it's actually the exact opposite of patriotic for a former official of her status to informally collaborate with a hostile nation by releasing a de-facto seditious infowar piece published by none other than a likely RAW-backed newspaper whose Editor-in-Chief wrote about why he wanted India to nuke Pakistan. There are many ways to express patriotic dissent, but doing what Dr. Siddiqa did isn't one of them.
The author's article is confirmation that an alliance exists between Pakistani liberals and the Indian media, but this specific case also strongly suggests that there might be more to it than just that. Dr. Siddiqa's connections with former Amb. Haqqani and ThePrint's Editor-in-Chief Gupta place her in the broader network of two men who are likely CIA and RAW assets respectively, whether she realizes this or not. As such, it's not unlikely that one or both of these intelligence agencies passively facilitated her piece's publication because it shares the same goals as they do, which is to exploit Lt. Gen. Hameed's appointment as a trigger for aggravating civil-military relations and provoking intra-military rivalries through a carefully crafted infowar attack against the new DG ISI. This intent was obvious enough from the get-go after Dr. Siddiqa carelessly released her piece at ThePrint of all places, therefore revealing her hand and that of those who might possibly be behind her, which makes it highly unlikely that they'll succeed. Nevertheless, the very fact that the right people are so upset at who Pakistan picked to be its new spy chief is proof that he's the right man for the job.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.