New Pakistan army chief: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has picked Lt Gen Asim Munir as Pakistan’s new army chief. Lt Gen Munir will replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa who is scheduled to retire on November 29.
Pakistan information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the appointment of new army chief on Twitter and added that apart from naming Lt Gen Munir as chief of army staff (COAS), PM Sharif has also appointed Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
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.
The Controversy surrounding appointment of army chief
Outgoing army chief General Bajwa was to originally retire from the post in 2019. However the then Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended his tenure by another three years just months before he was supposed to demit office.
There were reports in the Pakistani media that General Bajwa has sought another extension, however, the by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) repeatedly denied any such plans.
The appointment of new Pakistan army chief has come at a time when the country finds itself embroiled in an intense political crisis. Many believe that ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s long march is linked to the change of command in the Army.
Imran Khan 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.
Political observers are of the view that one of the objectives of Khan’s long march is to influence the army chief’s appointment even though Khan has denied such claims.
(With inputs from agencies)