Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif visited the headquarters of military’s premier intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) on Tuesday, in a development that is deciphered as crucial in the context of security situation at the Western international border.
It was the army chief’s first visit since the new ISI director general, Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, assumed charge last week. Reportedly, the military chief got a briefing on the security situation at the Pak-Afghan border and the arrangements to be made accordingly.
Moreover, it is learnt, the COAS also sought the intelligence arm’s input ahead of the upcoming visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan. “ISI is the premier and foremost intelligence arm playing a primary role in intelligence coordination with other foreign agencies vis-à-vis security arrangement regarding Afghanistan. Its input is vital,” said a security official in knowledge of pertinent details of the army chief’.
Furthermore, the source informed, there were certain inter-coordination issues involving the relationship between the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) the COAS was briefed about. “This is necessary for smooth sailing between the intelligence services,” the official said. The DG ISI, according to the source, briefed the army chief about his recent visit to Kabul where he held separate meetings with Afghan intelligence officials from National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Afghan National Army (ANA) including the Afghan military chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi. Reports suggest that the DG ISI accompanied General Raheel during his visit to Kabul last week. Lt Gen Rizwan is said to have visited Kabul again on Monday to hold talks with the NDS brass mainly on intelligence related issues and border coordination between Pakistan Army and ANA.
In his Tuesday visit, the army chief was also informed that there was a decline in unauthorised border crossings from Afghanistan to Pakistan in the wake of ongoing operation Khyber One that has seen enhanced border surveillance from Pakistani side. The Afghan president is expected to hold meetings with Pakistan’s top military command in addition to meeting the civilian government brass in his upcoming visit likely to take place in the days to come.
Meanwhile, a press release from the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on General Raheel’s visit to the ISI headquarters said the COAS was briefed in detail about the internal and external security situation of the country. “The COAS appreciated the role played by the ISI for national security and lauded the contributions and sacrifices of its officers and men towards strengthening the defence of the motherland,” the press release added.