Pakistan

PM names Lt Gen Asim Munir as new army chief, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC

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.

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.

Asif hopes for no ‘controversy’

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.

“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.

“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).

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