56-year-old Zaheerul Islam, currently the military commander in Karachi, is considered close to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He served as Deputy ISI Director from 2008 to 2010.
"Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has appointed Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, Corps Commander Karachi, as the new Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence," said a brief statement from the Premier’s office.
His appointment ended speculation about a further extension to Pasha, who had been in the post since 2008 and got two extensions after reaching the age of retirement in 2010. Pasha is now due to retire on March 18.
Zaheerul Islam, who is due to retire in October 2014, comes from a military family of Punjab. During his earlier stint in the ISI, he reportedly headed a section that dealt with domestic and counter-intelligence matters.
In his capacity as the head of the Karachi Corps, Zaheerul Islam played a key role in operations by security forces to control widespread ethnic and political violence in the financial hub of Karachi last year.
In the past few weeks, media reports had said several generals were in the running for the post of ISI chief, including Maj Gen Sahibzada Isfandiyar Ali Khan Pataudi, a Deputy Director General in the IS and an uncle of Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan.
Zaheerul Islam’s name is said to have been recommended by President Asif Ali Zardari.
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