Islamabad:  Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam was on Friday appointed the chief of the powerful ISI by Pakistan government, ending months of speculation about a third extension to incumbent Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha whose tenure ends on March 18.

56-year-old 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.

Islam, who is due to retire in October 2014, comes from a military family of Punjab province. During his earlier stint in the ISI, he reportedly headed a section that dealt with domestic and counter-intelligence matters.