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Pakistan Appoints New Spy Chief

FILE - Then-Director General of Pakistani Rangers (Sindh) Karachi, Major General Rizwan Akhtar (C) salutes during a guard of honor prior to a meeting at India's Border Security Force (BSF) headquarters in New Delhi, July 2, 2012.

Pakistan has appointed a new chief for the country's powerful intelligence agency.

An army statement says Rizwan Akhtar has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and will head Inter-Services Intelligence, effective October 1.

A military official said Akhtar has extensive experience with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.

Pakistani defense analyst and former Pakistan Army lieutenant general Talat Masood says Akhtar is the right man for the job.

"Well I think he has got the relevant experience which is needed for this job. In the sense that he has been in Wanna [Pakistan’s area bordering the Afghan border] and at the moment you can imagine that the operation [against Pakistani Taliban] in the North Wazirstan and the turbulent situation on the Afghanistan border," he told VOA's Deewa Service.

Afghanistan's government has accused the ISI of plotting terrorist attacks in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. Without commenting on the validity of the charges, Masood said Pakistan needs to review ISI policy towards Afghanistan.

"I am hoping that there would be a revision and transition from this policy because the past policy has been very harmful for the long term interest of Pakistan. It has given rise to a lot of misgivings and misunderstandings between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And also given rise to a lot of militant groups in Pakistan."

The head of the ISI spy agency occupies one of the most important posts in Pakistan. It is at the intersection of the country's domestic politics, the war on militancy and Pakistan's foreign relations.

Akhtar, who previously headed a Pakistani paramilitary force in the southern city of Karachi, is replacing Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam.