Lieutenant-General Syed Asim Munir has been named as the next Army chief of Pakistan amid speculation and controversy. Lt Gen will hold arguably the most powerful post in the country. He will take over the reins from outgoing General Qamar Javed Bajwa on November 29. Gen Bajwa is retiring after the end of his six-year tenure.
The appointment of Lt. Gen. Munir comes at a time when there’s a raging dispute between the military and former prime minister Imran Khan, who saw the hand of the army in unseating him earlier this year. “It is based on merit, law and as per constitution,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said after announcing Lt. Gen. Munir as the new chief.
Information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the appointment on Twitter on Thursday. Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad will take charge as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Aurangzeb added in her tweet. Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a cabinet meeting and chose Lt. Gen. Munir from a list of six nominees for the top military post.
The names of Lt. Gen. Munir and Lt. Gen. Shamshad have been sent for President Arif Alvi’s nod. Alvi is also the supreme commander of Pakistan’s armed forces and belongs to the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, whose chief is Khan. The official handle of PTI said both Khan and Alvi “will act according to constitution and law”.
A LONG JOURNEY OF ARMY CHIEF
Lt Gen Munir will be Pakistan’s 17th army chief since 1947. A graduate from the 17th course of the Officers Training School in Mangla, he was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment. He started his military career in 1986.
In September 2018, Lt. Gen. Munir was promoted to the rank of a three-star general. In fact, his four-year tenure as Lt Gen ends on November 27. At present, Lt. Gen. Munir is posted as Quarter Master General at GHQ in Rawalpindi – charged with overseeing supplies for all military units.
In early 2017, he was appointed as Military Intelligence director general and served in the position for 21 months. In October 2018, he was appointed as chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s premier intelligence agency. He served as ISI chief for only eight months before being removed from the post. It was the time when the Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in February 2019 took place, causing tensions between India and Pakistan to escalate.
Reports say that he was removed from the ISI chief’s post by Bajwa at the request of then PM Imran Khan. Khan replaced Lt. Gen. Munir with Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, considered as Khan’s confidante. Lt. Gen. Munir was also posted as Gujranwala Corps commander for two years. It was from where he was moved to his present posting at GHQ, Rawalpindi. He is a holder of the Sword of Honour and was awarded Hilal-i-Imtiaz in March 2018.
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