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Govt picks RAW chief

New Delhi, Nov. 24: With grey hair and moustache and an easy gait, Alok Joshi looks a university professor but for the Prada frames that rest on his nose.

On December 31, he is expected to take over as head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency.

Joshi, special secretary in RAW and a 1976-batch Haryana cadre officer, will replace Sanjeev Tripathi on December 31, sources said.

His name is likely to be announced in the next few days even as the government takes a final view on the appointment of a successor to Intelligence Bureau director Nehchal Sandhu. S. Asif Ibrahim’s name is doing the rounds.

Following 26/11, greater coordination has been expected between RAW and the IB than ever before. Joshi has served in both organisations.

The decision to pick him was taken earlier this week in the Prime Minister’s Office. “There was no controversy around Joshi’s name,” said a source, indicating that the appointment of the IB director may be a bit more sensitive.

Joshi has done a stint in Kathmandu and Brussels besides working for a considerable time in the IB.

Ibrahim, a 1977-batch Madhya Pradesh cadre officer, has also served abroad and was minister (coordination) at the Indian high commission in London until recently.

He is a dark horse and, if selected, the appointment would be over three other officers: V. Rajagopal, R.N. Gupta and Yashovardhan Azad. Ibrahim is said to have scored on the parameter of having served in Kashmir.

The officer was also attached at different times to former ministers Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Madhavrao Scindia. A political understanding is considered an absolute must for any IB chief.

Insiders, though, are not ready to bet all the way as political considerations are paramount in top appointments in the security establishment. The Prime Minister remains the final authority.