Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday decided to appoint Gen. Asim Munir, the senior most among the six Lieutenant Generals, as the next army chief, ending suspense of the past several weeks.
This announcement was made by Pakistan’s Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb in a tweet, in which she stated that the Prime Minister has sent the name of Gen. Asim Munir as the new army chief.
There were many speculations about the new army chief of Pakistan, as several controversies had started as to who would be the outgoing army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa’s successor. The ruling coalition of Pakistan Democratic Movement and opposition PTI were locked in a match of narratives as to who should be the next chief of the army staff in Pakistan, where the army holds and plays a key role in the domestic and foreign policy. Army anchors almost everything in Pakistan.
Even after Shehbaz Sharif has cleared the name of Lt. Gen. Asim Munir for the top post in the army, it is yet to be approved by Pakistan president Arif Alvi. The problem, however, is that Arif Ali, is a PTI man and his inclination towards Imran Khan are known to all in Pakistan. In fact, President, in his interviews to media has not hidden this fact ,as he has gone to the extent of saying that “Imran Khan is his leader, and he respects him a lot.”
Alvi also had played a role of brokering dialogue between the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan and also attempted to iron out differences between the army and PTI leader . It is not known as yet whether the recommendation of Lt. Gen. Asim Munir’s as new army chief is choice of Imran as well. If it is not, then it can complicate the matters in already fragile situation.
Who is Gen Asim Munir
Lt Gen Munir is an outstanding officer, but because of the technicalities involved, it was earlier believed he may remain the proverbial dark horse in the race for the army chief’s position.
He was promoted to the rank of a two-star general in September 2018, but he took charge two months later. As such, his four-year tenure as Lt Gen ends on November 27, around the same time when incumbent Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa will be doffing their army uniform, Dawn newspaper profiled him after the announcement of his appointment was made pubic
Lt. Gen. Munir entered the service via the Officers Training School Programme in Mangla , and was commissioned into the Frontier Force Regiment.
He has been a close aide of Gen Bajwa ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under the outgoing army chief, who was then Commander X Corps.
Lt Gen Munir was later appointed Military Intelligence director general in early 2017, and in October next year was made the Inter-Services Intelligence Chief.
However, his stint as the top intelligence officer turned out to be the shortest ever, as he was replaced by Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid within eight months, on the insistence of then-PM Imran Khan.
He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, a position he held for two years, before being moved to the General Headquarters as the quartermaster general.
Since he has ISI background, it would have to be seen as to how he frames his policies toward the civilian leadership as also how would he conduct the foreign policy, assist the government or work on parallel lines of his own.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.