Musharraf names intelligence chief

President promotes ally to bolster power as he prepares to run for another term

September 22, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- President Pervez Musharraf promoted a close ally to the important post of intelligence chief yesterday, shoring up his power base as he prepares to run for another term as president and possibly resign from his position as army chief in coming weeks.

Nadeem Taj was named director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's main intelligence agency.

Musharraf is expected to fill the positions of vice chief of army staff and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff soon. The incumbents are set to retire Oct. 7.

The appointment of Taj is considered a move by Musharraf to ensure that his allies hold the positions of power if he relinquishes his post as military chief.

Taj has been Musharraf's military secretary and, most recently, head of military intelligence. He is considered one of Musharraf's most trusted allies and is thought to be related by marriage to Musharraf's wife.

Also promoted yesterday was Maj. Gen. Mohsin Kamal, who was named commander of the 10th Army Corps, which is considered one of the most important positions in the army because it commands troops based just south of the capital near army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The promotions of Taj and Kamal appear to point the way for the current intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, and the 10th Army Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Tariq Majeed, to move into the top two posts in the army when the incumbents retire Oct. 7.

Musharraf, 64, has said that he will resign his military post if he is elected to another term as president by national and provincial assemblies Oct. 6.

If he does, the vice chief of army staff would be expected to become the chief of army staff, and the position of vice chief, which was created by Musharraf, would be scrapped.

Since staging a military coup in 1999, Musharraf has derived his power from his command of the army and has continued to conduct much of his work as president in uniform from Army House in Rawalpindi.

In an indication of his reluctance to relinquish his army role, he has described his uniform as his "second skin." His power is expected to diminish if he becomes a civilian president.

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