ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday announced that Lieutenant General Asim Munir had been chosen by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to become Pakistan’s next army chief, replacing General Qamar Javed Bajwa — ending the ongoing speculations.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed on Twitter that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, using his Constitutional right, had also appointed Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
Sources told Geo News that the President’s Secretariat has received the summary of the appointment — of the officers, who are among the senior-most military officers at the moment.
وزیراعظم پاکستان محمد شہباز شریف نے آئینی اختیار استعمال کرتے ہوئے لیفٹنٹ جنرل ساحر شمشاد مرزا کو چئیرمین جوائنٹ چیفس آف سٹاف اور لیفٹنٹ جنرل سید عاصم منیر کو چیف آف دی آرمی سٹاف مقرر کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا ہے۔ اس بابت سمری صدر پاکستان کو ارسال کر دی گئی ہے۔
— Marriyum Aurangzeb (@Marriyum_A) November 24, 2022
The decision was announced after PM Shehbaz held a federal cabinet meeting earlier today to mull over the high-profile appointments after the allied parties authorised him to pick the officers for the top slots.
PM Shehbaz’s nominee for the army chief has also been retained by the federal government under the Pakistan Army Act, according to sources, as he was about to retire later this month.
Lt Gen Munir, who was also Pakistan’s chief spy, will take over from outgoing COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires later this month after a six-year term.
COAS Gen Bajwa, who was appointed as the army chief in 2016, will retire on November 29. He was initially set to hang up his boots in 2019, but the PTI-led government gave him a three-year extension.
Speaking to the media after the meeting of the federal cabinet, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also confirmed that the summary had been sent to the president.
“All the matters have been settled in line with the Constitution of Pakistan and hopefully the president will not create a controversy,” Asif said. The minister expected President Alvi to approve the premier’s advice as per Consitution and law.
He expressed hope that the said appointments would not be entertained on political advice.
The minister refused to comment on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s consultation with President Alvi over the matter. He said that he has tweeted on the matter.
He said that the Pakistan Air Force, navy, and army shouldn’t be made controversial. A detailed press release regarding the development will be issued, Asif added.
Before the media talk, Asif had said in his tweet, saying that it was now a test for Imran Khan where he could either strengthen the institution responsible for defending the country or make it controversial.
ایڈوائس صدر علوی کے پاس چلی گئی ھے.اب عمران خان کا امتحان ھے وہ دفاع وطن کے ادارے کو مضبوط بنانا چاہتا ھے یا متنازعہ. صدر علوی کی بھی آزمائش ھے کے وہ سیاسی ایڈوائس پہ عمل کرینگےیاآئینی وقانونی ایڈوائس پہ. بحیثیت افواج کےسپریم کمانڈرادارے کو سیاسی تنازعات سےمحفوظ رکھنا انکا فرض ھے
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) November 24, 2022
“This is also a test for President Alvi, whether he will follow political advice or constitutional and legal advice. As the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he must protect the country from political conflicts,” Asif stressed in his tweet.
President leaves for meeting Imran
Meanwhile, according to sources within Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Alvi has flown to Lahore from Islamabad to meet Khan.
Following the news about PM’s pick for COAS and CJCSC, PTI’s official shared a tweet quoting Imran Khan as saying “when the summary comes, I and the president of Pakistan will act according to the Constitution and laws”.
Khan had been stressing that President Alvi was in contact with him and would consult him on the appointment of the top two slots.
سمری آنے کے بعد میں اور صدر پاکستان آئین وقانون کے مطابق کام کریں گے۔ چئیرمین عمران خان pic.twitter.com/bZ6cp2bc9R
— PTI (@PTIofficial) November 24, 2022
“I am in contact with the president over the summary related to a key appointment,” the PTI chief had told a private TV channel earlier.
“I am in touch with him (the president). He will discuss everything with me. The prime minister goes to an absconder so I am a party head. He will absolutely discuss [the matter] with me.”
Khan had stated he doubts the intention of the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. “I have no issues with whoever is made the army chief but I want that the decision should be taken on merit,” he had said.
“The matter was very simple. There are principles of seniority. The army knows which people of its are capable, but the people who will choose and appoint them […] the big corrupt mafia […]I doubt their intentions and not the person who will be appointed.”
“We don’t know who they will appoint but the president and I have decided that we will play within the law and do whatever is in law and Constitution,” the PTI chief had said.
With all eyes on how PTI will respond to the development, former federal minister Shibli Faraz said on his party’s behalf that it wouldn’t create any obstacles over the army chief’s appointment.
The statement came in response to a question if there was a possibility that President Alvi would hinder the approval of the summary sent to him.
“PTI will not create any obstacles in the army chief’s appointment,” Faraz said.
Who is Lt Gen Asim Munir?
Lt Gen Asim Munir joined the Pakistan Army from the Mangala Officers Training School programme and then became a commissioned officer in the Frontier Force Regiment.
He commanded the Northern Areas Force as a brigadier and was appointed the director-general of the Military Intelligence in early 2017. In 2018, he was appointed as the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Following this, he was posted as Corps Commander Gujranwala for two years. Currently, he is serving as the Quarter Master at the General Headquarters (GHQ).
He will become the first army chief who has headed both — the MI and the ISI. Lt Gen Munir will also be the first army chief who has been awarded the Sword of Honour.
When he was posted in Madina as a lieutenant colonel, the military officer became Hafiz-i-Quran (a person who has memorised the Quran) at age 38.
Who is Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza?
Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza hails from the Sindh Regiment and served as the director-general of the military operations under former COAS Raheel Sharif.
Lt Gen Mirza also supervised the operations against terrorists in North Waziristan and was part of the coordination group that oversaw negotiations with Afghanistan.
He was also a member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Reforms Committee. After becoming a Lt Gen, Mirza was appointed as the Chief of the General Staff. Currently, he is serving as the Corps Commander Rawalpindi.
The matter of the army chief’s appointment is crucial in the current political scenario — with Khan striving to come into power again in opposition to the ruling coalition — has been a hot affair since the tabling of the confidence motion against Khan in April.\
Outgoing COAS Bajwa was due to retire on November 29, 2019, at the end of his stipulated term, but was given a three-year extension in service by then-prime minister Khan on August 19, 2019.
There had been wide speculation about whether or not General Bajwa will seek another extension. However, the COAS indicated several months ago that he planned to retire this year.
This was also confirmed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) at least a couple of times, while General Bajwa clearly stated twice on separate occasions that he had no plans to stay on the post.
The general is currently paying his farewell visit which he started on November 1 with a visit to Army Air Defence Command and followed up the next day with a visit to Armed Forces Strategic Forces Command.
You may like
FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks off: Qatar gears up for historic event
PM Shehbaz, Xi agree to strengthen cooperation on CPEC, strategic partnership
Facts behind cypher, Arshad Sharif’s death have to be determined: DG ISPR
Government is not involved in audio leaks: PM Shehbaz
All matters settled between MQM-P, joint opposition
In a first, Saudi army chief makes ‘historic’ visit to India
Pakistan conducts successful test of enhanced range version of Babur Cruise Missile 1B