ISLAMABAD (Realist English). Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has appointed Lieutenant General Asim Munir the new commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Al Jazeera reports.
Munir will replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who will end his six-year term as army commander on November 29. Munir is currently stationed at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Previously, he served as the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces — Interdepartmental Intelligence (ISI).
According to the Indian Express, he is close to the current commander-in-chief, General Qamar Bajwa: “As a Brigadier General, Munir was the commander of the Northern Areas of the Command of the Troops (FCNA), while Bajwa was the commander of the X Corps. FCNA is under the command of X Corps”.
Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad will become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, the candidacies of Munir and Shamshad have been sent for approval to President Aref Alvi, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.
Alvi belongs to the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, which is led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who previously accused the government of trying to choose a favorite as the commander-in-chief of the army.
“Now it’s Imran Khan’s test. Will he want to strengthen the institution that protects the country, or will he bet on contradictions? This is also a test for President Alvi,” Asif wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, the government accused Khan of trying to challenge the appointment of a new army commander out of political gain.
Former Defense Minister Asif Yasin Malik in an interview with Al Jazeera noted that Munir has an “impeccable reputation” in the army: “In the army, your reputation is of great importance, and Asim Munir is highly respected for his competence and abilities. There have been no disagreements in his career so far, and I think he can be a very good leader”.
In his turn, an analyst from Islamabad, Mohammed Faisal, recalled that the new commander of the army will take command in a crisis period: “The new commander will have to cope with complex political, internal and external challenges. Moreover, the economic crisis is the most urgent, and even the retiring army commander has acknowledged this”.
The Pakistani military has directly ruled the country of 220 million people for almost half of its 75-year history.