ISLAMABAD: Gen Asim Munir, a soldier with considerable operational experience and a career steeped in intelligence, has been designated as Pakistans 11th Chief of Army Staff (COAS), after weeks of intense speculation about who will lead the powerful military following Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's impending retirement.
He is first army chief to have headed both the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and also the first army chief who served as the Quartermaster General (QMG), and first army chief from the OTS programme, Dawn reported.
OTS-trained officers from 1950 to 1990, but most of its graduates ended up at the ranks of major or colonel in the army with very few rising to the rank of brigadier.
He has been a close aide of the outgoing COAS ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under Gen Bajwa, who was then Commander X Corps.
As major general he was first posted as Force Commander Northern Areas (FCNA), the division deployed along the forward lines at Siachen, Dawn reported. He was later appointed DG Military Intelligence in early 2017, and in October next year was made the ISI chief.
However, his stint as the top intelligence officer turned out to be the shortest ever, when he was abruptly replaced by Lt Gen Faiz Hamid within eight months, on the insistence of then Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, a position he held for two years, before moving to the GHQ as Quartermaster General, Dawn reported. Though promotions usually take effect from the date of assumption of command, but because of the technical hitch of Gen Munir's impending retirement on November 27, both men including Gen Mirza were given promotions with immediate effect.
Therefore, the next few days would be rare as there would be four serving four-star generals in the country, though the number of positions of generals in Pakistan Army isn't fixed. After the cabinet meeting, the media had speculated that the rules regarding the appointment of services chiefs would be tweaked to accommodate Gen Munir.
However, a cabinet source later dismissed the notion, insisting that he was "retained" and "appointed" under existing regulations. Gen Munir will assume charge amid intense political polarisation in the country and inherit an army image battered by controversies, Dawn reported. His predecessor, Gen Bajwa, had a day earlier said the military received flak for its "involvement in politics" over the past seven decades. He also stated that the army had decided to stay out of politics, a decision, which, according to him, was taken in February 2021. However, analysts seemed sceptical over whether Gen Bajwa's successor would keep his pledge, Dawn reported.