Putting an end to intense speculation and political tussle in Pakistan, former ISI chief Lieutenant General Asim Munir has been selected as the next chief of Pakistan’s army by PM Shahbaz Sharif. Current chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa, 61, is scheduled to retire on November 29 after securing a three-year extension.
At the same time, Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been selected as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
"The Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has decided to appoint Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir as the Chief of the Army Staff using the constitutional authority," Pakistan Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted.
Aurangzeb said that a summary of the same had been sent to Pakistan President Arif Alvi. On Wednesday, the Pakistan government confirmed that it had received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a "panel of names" for the appointment of the new COAS.
"The PM office has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a panel of names for the appointment of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff. The Prime Minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure," the Pakistan prime minister's office said in a statement.
Lt Gen Asim Munir was one of three candidates vying for the top two positions. He was the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) when tensions between India and Pakistan peaked in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019, which claimed the life of 40 CRPF men.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the summary had been forwarded to the PMO from the defence ministry. "The rest of the steps will be completed soon," he tweeted. He has warned opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that the coalition government will deal with him, after the completion of the appointment process of the new Army chief.
Munir’s selection as the next army leader will be a blow for former prime Minister Imran Khan since it comes at a time when the military and Khan are at odds over Khan’s earlier expulsion from office this year. Imran Khan has called for a rally in Rawalpindi on November 26, two days before General Bajwa passes the baton to the incoming Army chief.