ISLAMABAD — Lt Gen Asim Munir, a former head of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, was on Thursday named as the new Army chief to succeed incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa, ending the suspense over the key appointment.
Bajwa, 61, is scheduled to retire on November 29 after a three-year extension. He has ruled out seeking another extension.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced on Twitter that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has named Munir as Pakistan’s new Army chief.
Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza had been picked as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
“The summary about (appointments) has been sent to the President,” Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted.
Both officers have also been promoted to four-star generals.
Lt Gen Munir entered the service via the Officers Training School programme and was commissioned into the Frontier Force Regiment.
He has been a close aide of Gen Bajwa ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under the outgoing army chief, who was then Commander X Corps.
Lt Gen Munir was later appointed Military Intelligence director general in early 2017, and in October next year was made the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief.
However, his stint as the top intelligence officer turned out to be the shortest ever, as he was replaced by Lt Gen Faiz Hamid within eight months, on the insistence of then-PM Imran Khan.
He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, a position he held for two years, before being moved to the General Headquarters as the quartermaster general.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the media after the appointments that the “advice” had been forwarded to President Arif Alvi, adding that all matters had been settled according to the law and the Constitution.
He called on citizens to refrain from viewing it through a “political lens”. Dawn newspaper reported.
He hoped that the President would not make the appointments “controversial” and would endorse the advice of the premier.
The defence minister reiterated that the President should endorse the premier’s advice so that a “controversy may not arise”.
“This will also help our country and the economy to get on track. Currently, everything is at a standstill.”
The CJCSC is the highest authority in the hierarchy of the armed forces but the key powers including mobilisation of troops, appointments and transfers lie with the COAS which makes the person holding the post the most powerful in the military.
The powerful Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.
There has been extraordinary interest in the appointment of Bajwa’s successor as many believe ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s long march is linked to the change of command in the Army.
He has asked his supporters to gather in Rawalpindi on November 26, two days before Gen Bajwa hands over the baton to the new Army chief. — (PTI)