New Delhi, November 24
Pakistan’s former spy master and senior-most Lt General Asim Munir was named the new army chief by PM Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday. He will take over from Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on November 29.
Lt Gen Munir has served as head of both the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI), a rare combination in the Pakistan army. But he was removed as ISI chief within eight months on the insistence of then PM Imran Khan in 2019. Lt Gen Munir is believed to have approved the plans for 2019 Pulwama terror attack, although he was no longer the DG, ISI, when the attack was carried out. Making the announcement, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted PM Sharif had also named Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Both officers have been made four-star generals.
“It is based on merit, law and as per constitution,” said Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, as the appointment came amid political tensions.
Former PM Imran Khan, who was wounded in an attempt on his life earlier this month, had accused the army of conspiring to remove him. For India, the development came at a time when General Bajwa was active in getting the West to renew its ties with Pakistan. The US overturned a Trump administration ban to provide a $450 million package to upgrade F16s, the IMF approved a loan and Islamabad was taken off the watch list of the global money laundering and terror financing watchdog, the FATF. — TNS
About Lt General Asim Munir
Was removed as ISI chief by Imran after 8 months
- Lt-Gen Asim Munir’s appointment coincides with a dispute between the military and former PM Imran Khan, who blames the army for playing a part in his ouster earlier this year
- Son of a schoolteacher, Munir grew up in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. He received the ‘sword of honour’ at the military academy
- He served in an area disputed with India that borders China and also in Saudi Arabia and later as chief of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (MI) in 2017 and then of the ISI in 2018
- Was removed as ISI chief after just eight months on the request of then PM Imran Khan, no reason was cited for his removal
- Munir is currently the army’s quartermaster general, in charge of supplies. He is also the most senior-ranking general after General Qamar Javed Bajwa, whom he replaces as head of the armed forces
- He assumes his three-year stint as army chief on Nov 29; a former general who worked with Munir described him as “clear-headed”
- Little is known about Munir’s political affiliation but analysts are sceptical about the chances of Pakistan’s army becoming an apolitical institution. REUTERS