Pakistan appoints new chief for its premier spy agency, names new senior military officers

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's army on Monday named a new chief to head the country's premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which is also known by its acronym ISI.

Maj. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general to head the spy agency, the army said in a statement. Akhtar, who previously headed a Pakistani paramilitary force in the southern city of Karachi, replaced Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam.

Both the military and the ISI wield tremendous power in Pakistan, even after a successful transition of power to civilians last year.

The spy agency, which officially is meant to report to the prime minister, commonly follows positions taken by the military command.

The army also promoted five other officers to the rank of lieutenant general to replace officers who retire in October.

The military changes remove most of the top officers appointed by the last army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who opted not to launch a major military offensive in country's North Waziristan tribal region despite repeated recommendations from Washington. The new army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, did that in mid-June.

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