pakistan
Friday Nov 25 2022
By
Web Desk

President Arif Alvi approves PM Shehbaz Sharif's nominees for COAS, CJCSC

By
Web Desk

  • PM Shehbaz had sent a summary earlier in the day to President Alvi 
  • PM had proposed Gen Asim Munir as COAS, Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC
  • COAS Gen Bajwa will retire on Nov 29, CJCSC Gen Raza to retire on Nov 27.


ISLAMABAD: Uncertainty surrounding key appointments in the military ended after President Arif Alvi on Thursday signed the summary and approved the appointment of General Asim Munir as the next chief of army staff and Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC).

"President Dr Arif Alvi has promoted Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza HI(M) to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from 27th November 2022. The President promoted Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir HI(M) to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chief of Army Staff with effect from 29th November 2022," said a statement issued by the President's Secretariat.

It added that the promotions and appointments have been made under article 243(4) (a) and (b) and Article 48(1) of the Constitution of the Pakistan. Both the articles are to be read with Sections 8-A and 8-D of the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

In this regard, the President has signed the summary received in his office, today.

Both — Gen Munir and General Mirza — met PM Shehbaz  Sharif and President Arif Alvi, separately, after the confirmation of their appointment as the new chief of army staff and joint chief of staff committee.

"My congratulations and best wishes to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee-designate Lt. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Chief of the Army Staff-designate Lt. General Asim Munir on their appointment," tweeted PM Shehbaz.

Earlier today, speculations ended after the government announced that Gen Munir was selected by PM Shehbaz to become Pakistan's next army chief, replacing General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed on Twitter that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, using his Constitutional right, had also named Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC.

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.

Following the PM’s decision, the summary of the new appointments was sent to the President's Secretariat.

But the uncertainty surrounding the president’s approval of the key appointments took centre stage after the head of the state departed to Lahore to hold a meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan on the key appointments.

All eyes were on the meeting as Imran Khan, in an interview Wednesday night, had said that he and President Alvi would play “legally and constitutionally” on the matter. 

While the government had hoped that there would be no hiccups in the signing of the summary. 

"All the matters have been settled in line with the Constitution of Pakistan and hopefully the president will not create a controversy," Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had said. He also stated that the signing was a test for President Alvi. 

After the end of the meeting, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry had shared that President House would issue a statement on his meeting with the PTI chief. He had added that the president and Imran Khan discussed the constitutional, political and legal issues regarding the army chief's appointment.

But as soon as President Alvi reached Islamabad he signed off the summary and approved the appointment of Gen Munir and Gen Mirza as the next CJCSC. 

The govt had also developed a "Plan B" in case the president would not approve the summary. However, with the signing it seems there would be no need of the plan. 

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.

However, Gen Mirza will take over the CJCSC post on November 27 as General Nadeem Raza will retire before Gen Bajwa.

President’s decision was backed by Imran Khan: Fawad Chaudhry

Commenting on the development, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry said the president’s decision is in line with the PTI chief’s suggestion and was taken after Khan backed it.

“The measures taken in these last eight months have damaged the country as attempts to sideline Khan wreaked havoc in the country,” he said, hoping that the news military leadership will play a positive role in the country.

The former information minister while congratulating the newly appointed COAS and CJCSC, reiterated that the only solution to bring political stability to the country is snap polls.

Felicitations start pouring in

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah welcomed the appointment of the new army chief and congratulated Gen Munir and General Mirza.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf and Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani also extended their heartiest congratulation to the two military officials on their appointments.

Who is Gen Asim Munir? 

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. Gen Munir will also be the first army chief who has been awarded the Sword of Honour.

Who is Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza?

Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza hails from the Sindh Regiment and served as the director-general of the military operations under former COAS Raheel Sharif.

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 Gen, Mirza was appointed as the Chief of the General Staff. Currently, he is serving as the Corps Commander Rawalpindi.

Speculations

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 plans 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.