ISLAMABAD - Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, the powerful spy agency, is likely to be replaced within the next few weeks, The Nation has learned through official sources.

A security official, who is privy to the development, confirmed the impending change of command and said preparations were underway for the changes.

Lt Gen Akhtar was appointed as the head of ISI in September 2014 and took office in November 2014. Intriguingly, he may be leaving the position earlier than the typical three-year tenure of a ISI DG. The corps commander of Karachi, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, is most likely to replace him, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another senior security official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lt Gen Akhtar – who has already served in Karachi as Director General, Sindh Rangers – knows the challenges in Karachi and “the swapping makes sense.”

The official was, however, more circumspect about the timing of the change and said: “It depends on whether the army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, gets an extension or retires as announced."

"I don’t think the notification of other changes in military command will come before that,” he said. “There are a lot of variables involved.”

Gen Raheel Sharif had announced earlier this year that he is not seeking an extension and would take retirement in November.

Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the chief military spokesman, however, denied that the intelligence chief was being replaced. “No such thing,” Gen Bajwa said.