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PM Shehbaz picks Lt Gen Asim Munir as new army chief

PM Shehbaz picks Lt Gen Asim Munir as new army chief

After weeks of intense speculation and rumours, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday chose Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new chief of army staff (COAS).

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb made the announcement on Twitter, saying the premier had made the choice while exercising his constitutional powers. She further said that Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza had been picked as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).

She went on to say that a summary of the same had been sent to President Arif Alvi.




Speaking to the media minutes after the announcement was made, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the “advice” had been forwarded to President Alvi.

He said that all matters had been settled according to the law and the Constitution, calling on the nation to refrain from viewing it through a “political lens”.

He expressed the hope that the president would not make the appointment “controversial” and would endorse the advice of the premier.

Outgoing COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa was originally supposed to retire in 2019. However, his tenure was extended for three years by then-prime minister Imran Khan in Aug 2019, just three months before he was set to retire.

Despite speculation about him seeking another extension, Bajwa had indicated several months ago that he planned to retire this year.

His retirement plan was later confirmed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on at least a couple of occasions and the general had himself in the last few months twice made it clear that he had no intentions to carry on — once during his visit to the United States and then again, while speaking at the National Security Workshop at National Defence University.

The next army chief’s appointment is at times mentioned as one of the major subplots in the ongoing political crisis engulfing the country which began earlier this year following the tabling of a no-trust motion against Imran.

Doubts about Bajwa’s retirement plan had been so strong that Imran, when faced with the vote of no-confidence, suspected that the political move against him was linked to Gen Bajwa’s impending retirement. He had, therefore, offered an indefinite extension to Gen Bajwa in a bid to pre-empt the then opposition’s vote against him, as per a recent presser by senior military officials.

Gen Bajwa finally started his farewell visits to formations on Nov 1 with a visit to the Army Air Defence Command and followed up the next day with a visit to Armed Forces Strategic Forces Command. Since then, he quietly toured a number of formations.

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