Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday chose Lt Gen Asim Munir 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.
Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza had been picked as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC). Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb made the announcement on Twitter.
“The summary about (appointments) has been sent to the President,” Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted. Both officers have also been promoted to four-star generals. 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.
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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.