Lt Gen Asim Munir, former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, was on Thursday appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, succeeding General Qamar Bajwa. Munir, who was due to retire on November 27, two days before Bajwa completes his nearly six-year tenure, was among six generals in the running for the top post. People familiar with the matter said Munir’s reputation as a bland military officer known for his by-the-book approach to all matters helped him secure the post.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced this on Twitter. “Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has decided to appoint Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Committee] and Lt Gen Syed Asim Munir as Chief of Army Staff using constitutional powers,” she tweeted. in Urdu. A summary of the formal proposal regarding the appointment was also sent to President Arif Alvi.
Alvi was appointed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan and belongs to Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf . After receiving the proposal, tweeted that the President would act “in accordance with the Constitution and laws” on the appointment of the army chief. Former prime minister Khan also claimed on Wednesday that the president is “definitely consulting” him on the appointment of the next army chief.
Munir, who belongs to the Frontier Force Regiment, headed both the ISI (in 2019) and Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (2016–2018). The former prime minister removed him as the ISI chief after a short tenure as Imran Khan did not like his illogical and by-the-book approach. A section of the ruling PML-N party favored his promotion as army chief because they believe Munir can stand up to Khan, the people cited above said.
Munir headed the ISI when India and Pakistan came close to hostilities following the Pulwama suicide bombing in February 2019. People familiar with the matter said Munir was among the military decision-makers involved in shaping Pakistan’s response at the time and security policies. During a key meeting at the time, Munir reportedly angered Imran Khan by saying that the government needed to gain the confidence of the opposition leader so that there could be unity among political parties, the people added.
Mirza, who was tipped for the post of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff even as his name was considered for the post of army chief, has considerable experience in handling India-related matters after his stint as army chief. operations from 2015–18 and Chief of the General Staff from 2019–21 and his current stint as commander of X Corps, the Rawalpindi-based formation that oversees operations in parts of Kashmir.
The appointment of the army chief has been a source of intense speculation in Pakistani political circles for months, particularly after the deterioration of relations between the Pakistani military and Imran Khan, who only recently backed down from his calls for the next army chief to be appointed. by the government formed after the next election in 2023.Munir replaces Bajwa, who got a three-year extension and is currently parting ways in various formations.