Mohammad Alam Khattak addresses a press conference in Peshawar on June 28, 2008. (TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP)
ISLAMBAD — Pakistan has appointed a new defense secretary, Mohammad Alam Khattak, a retired lieutenant general. His predecessor, Asif Yasin Malik, stepped down this week after two years on the job.
Khttak's appointment was approved by the Prime Minister on Monday and he is expected to take up the position soon.
Usually filled by a retired senior military officer, the secretary’s post involves coordinating between the military and civilian leadership.
Khattak retired in October as the commander of the Quetta-based Southern Command. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the Chief of Logistics Staff at Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi. His frontline experience involved command of an infantry division and heading the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the Inspector General, Frontier Corps (IGFC).
As IGFC, Khattak drew some controversy for "talking with the extremists ... to try to get them to see reason," said Brian Cloughley, former Australian defense attache to Islamabad.
"There wasn't a hope of that, and there was some criticism of him at the time. It's always easy to be wise after the event, and this was realized by the [Chief of Army Staff], and he was promoted and did well," Cloughley said.
He said he believes Khattak will perform well in his new job and there are unlikely to be any surprises.
"He seems to get on well with the civilian bureaucracy, and is obviously in favor with the government, so things should go smoothly. I don't think he'll rock any boats. But the position of Secretary will always remain advisory,” he said.■