In a major development, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on November 24 chose Lieutenant General Asim Munir as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
“Using his constitutional authority, has decided to appoint Lt General Asim Munir as the Army Chief and Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC),” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed.
Taking to Twitter, Aurangzeb said that the summary for the appointments has been sent to President Arif Alvi, local media reported.
Later, it was reported that Aiwan-e-Sadr has received the summary and a notification would be issued for the top two military slots after approval from the President.
PM Shehbaz’s nominee for the Army Chief has also been retained by the Federal Government under the Pakistan Army Act, according to sources, as he was about to retire later this month.
Lt General Munir, who was Pakistan’s Chief Spy, will take over from outgoing COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires later this month after a six-year term.
COAS General Bajwa, who was appointed as the Army Chief in 2016, will retire on November 29. He was initially set to hang up his boots in 2019, but the PTI-led government gave him a three-year extension.
In a media talk and tweet posted immediately after the announcement, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the “advice” over the appointments had been forwarded to President Alvi.
He expressed the hope that President Alvi wouldn’t make the appointments “controversial” and would endorse the advice of PM Shehbaz.
Lt General Asim Munir
Lt General 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. Lt General Munir will also be the first Army Chief who has been awarded the Sword of Honour.
Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza
Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza hails from the Sindh Regiment and served as the Director-General of the military operations under former COAS Raheel Sharif.
Lt General 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 Lt General Mirza was appointed as the Chief of the General Staff. Currently, he is serving as the Corps Commander Rawalpindi.