Friday, November 25, 2022

Govt notifies Gen Asim Munir as COAS, Gen Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC

Both military officials appointed for three years; Gen Bajwa to retire on Nov 29, Gen Raza Nov 27

Chief of army staff-designate General Asim Munir (left) and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee-designate Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza. — ISPR
Chief of army staff-designate General Asim Munir (left) and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee-designate Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza. — ISPR

  • Gen Asim Munir and Gen Shamshad Mirza appointed for three years.
  • Gen Munir to become COAS on Nov 29; Gen Mirza to assume office on Nov 27.
  • Outgoing COAS to retire on Nov 29 and CJCSC on Nov 27.

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has appointed 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), notifications said Friday morning.

Uncertainty surrounding key appointments in the military ended Thursday evening after President Arif Alvi signed off on the summary to appoint both the top military officers.

As a result, incumbent CJCSC Gen Nadeem Raza will hang up his boots on November 27 and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire on November 29, the notifications from the Ministry of Defence read.

"In exercise of powers conferred by Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution [...] read with Section 8A of Pakistan Army Act 1952, the president on the advice of the prime minister is pleased to approve the promotion of PA-25031 Lt Gen Syed Asim Munir [...] to the rank of General with immediate effect and his appointment as Chief of the Army Staff for a period of three years with effect from 29th November 2022," a notification read.

Following their appointments, politicians from both — the treasury and the opposition benches — congratulated the military officials and hoped that they would live up to the nation's expectations. 

Both the top military officials also held meetings with PM Shehbaz and President Alvi after the appointments to the high-ranking posts.  The government officials wished them well for their new responsibilities.

The meetings were held at the Prime Minister's Office and the Aiwan-e-Sadar, respectively.

The uncertainty

Although the president approved the summary of appointments yesterday evening, there was uncertainty regarding the matter as it was not signed right after being sent to him by the president.

As the prime minister forwarded the summary to the president, he left  Islamabad for Lahore to hold a meeting over the matter with PTI Chairman Imran Khan at Zaman Park.

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

Following the long meeting, the president left for Islamabad and PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the President's House would issue a statement on his meeting with the PTI chief — another statement that gave rise to speculations.

However, the president approved the summary without further hiccups by evening and also held meetings with both military officials later in the day.

Gen Asim Munir — a brief profile 

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.

Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza — a brief profile

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.

Wide 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 Gen 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 Gen 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.