ISLAMABAD, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Pakistan appointed Lt. Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat to head the department responsible for developing and protecting the country's nuclear assets.
The Defense Ministry said Hayat, currently commander of the Bahawalpur Corps, will take over as director general of the Strategic Plans Division, ending a long wait to find a suitable successor to Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who is retiring. The division also is in charge of the country's missile program.
Hayat's appointment follows the recent promotions of Gen. Raheel Sharif as the country's army chief and Gen. Rashad Mehmood as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, the News International reported.
Hayat comes from a military family. Father Mohammad Hayat retired as lieutenant general while his two brothers are currently two-star generals. The report said Hayat is regarded in military circles as intelligent, brave and bold.
It was during Kidwai's time Pakistan conducted its first series of nuclear tests in 1998. Nawaz Sharif, no relation to the new army chief, currently serving his third term as prime minister, held the same post in 1998.
The Nation newspaper said it was under Kidwai that Pakistan drew up its nuclear doctrine of no first use.