Author and journalist Adrian Levy has said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General Faiz Hameed’s removal to appoint him as the Peshawar Corps Commander is a significant move. Adrian Levy called it a consolidation of power by Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2021, Adrian Levy, journalist and co-author of Spy Stories said, “Lots of chess being played across the border; many different people have different views but definitely it is a consolidation of power by Army Chief Bajwa and it’s also really important as he has only until next year before he leaves office and a new army chief is appointed.”
“One of the persons up for that job (of army chief) is the ex-head of the ISI, General Faiz Hameed, and to do that, he needs to have call commands experience. So, moving him to Peshawar, on the one hand, gives him the call command experience, but on the other, he is also the man with the portfolio to begin discussions with the TTP and with the Taliban in Kabul and so the move is strategically significant,” Adrian Levy said.
On the issue of the weakening of the ISI, Adrian Levy said, “It’s also really interesting because it is the weakening of the ISI and whoever they bring in now will be a lesser figure which means the ISI will come more under the control of Bajwa which is interesting.”
Expressing concern for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in respect to the current developments, Adrian Levy said, “I fear for Imran Khan slightly because the outgoing ISI chief had an understanding with Imran Khan, and by moving him, it will weaken the position of Imran Khan in relation to the military.”
Speaking on the Haqqani network being reinstated in the Taliban government and if it was the plan of the ISI or if Faiz Hameed was moved to take control of something which went out of control for the ISI, Levy said, “It’s a bit of both of those things in a sense that first of all it’s not an ISI victory and its a total misnomer for it to be written that way particularly things that I am seeing coming out of India right now.”
“What you are seeing is a series of cascading failures on behalf of the US which really began with a misfiring war after the tragedy of the 9/11 conspiracies and then a second illegal war in Iraq which and then led to the Sunni-Shia civil war to the creation of the Islamic State and terror all over Europe as a result of that,” he said.
Speaking on the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, he said, “The lack of focus on the US campaign would result in the hollowing out of any kind of nation-building attempts and the creation of rampant corruption and warlordism. And what you were left with was a mirage in Kabul and what happens outside Kabul was that people make calculations and that was to bank on something pragmatic and seemingly real and come to terms with the Taliban.”
He said the situation in Afghanistan was more of an arrangement rather than a Taliban victory. He said, “Rather than what you are seeing as a Taliban victory where they took Kabul by force and war — they did not, an arrangement was made and the arrangements took advantage of the fault lines created by the US.”
Speaking on the current situation in Afghanistan, he said, “The people in power are not technocrats, not politicians and they have no experience with ruling. And the international coalition has people who hate each other. So who will be this person who can pull these rivals together? And it is truly a daunting task and India will watch this with curiosity.”
Speaking on the ISI, he said, “The constitutional setup in the most basic level — democracy, is a tiny thin veneer in Pakistan that has struggled to take hold since 1988 onwards and the ISI has an indomitable position and it is not tethered to the civilian procedure and in fact has always wriggled free of any supervision.”
“Both agencies, the ISI and the RAW are full-spectrum espionage agencies,” he said.
Speaking on India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), he said, “Since its inception in 68, RAW hit the ground running. And intelligence played a very enormous role in the 1971 war and without this, the victory would not have come in the way that it did.”
“Many of India’s successes are subtle, they are about winning the argument internationally, placing itself at the forefront internationally and delivering convincing narratives, making political ties that would develop later, including the states that were hostile to India previously,” he said.