Will Imran Khan campaign against Gen. Asim Munir's appointment as Pak Army Chief?
by IANS | Updated Nov 25, 2022
At a press conference, Imran Khan said that the Chief of Army Staff's neutrality has already been affected due to the involvement of former premier in the process.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had earlier on Thursday cleared the appointment of Lieutenant General Asim Munir as the next chief of army staff of Pakistan, according to a report in Pakistani newspaper The News International.
"Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, 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.
Khan's reservation about the new army chief's appointment is that the Nawaz Sharif camp was likely to connive with the army chief to deny him political power.
On Wednesday, Khan claimed that whoever is appointed as the next army chief by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif will become "controversial" from the first day.
The former Prime Minister added that he did not doubt (the credibility of) whoever would be chosen as the army chief, saying that he instead was suspicious of the intentions of those who would appoint him.
"If Nawaz Sharif thinks he can bring his army chief and get us beaten by the establishment, then the nation will stand against it."
Speaking to the media at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore Khan further said that the new army chief's neutrality had already been affected with the involvement of the "convict" PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in the matter of national security. Khan had earlier objected to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's visit to London where, during a meeting with Nazwaz, the appointment of the next army chief was discussed.
"Nawaz Sharif would have sought commitments from whoever they want to appoint that he would push the PTI against the wall and ensure all cases against him are closed."
Khan said he had been consistently saying the army chief should be appointed on merit, and clearly stated that PTI would not approach a court following the appointment.
It is already well-known that the former Prime Minister Khan has been a supporter of former ISI chief and current corps commander in Bahawalpur, Faiz Hameed, who had been eligible for an appointment as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Khan has infuriated the current military dispensation by accusing Major General Faisal Naseer of the ISI of masterminding an attempt on his life at Wazirabad, during the first phase of his Long March. Khan has declared his intent to join the second phase of protest at Rawalpindi, the seat of the military's General Headquarters (GHQ).
Who are the new appointees?
Lt.Gen. Asim Munir was the senior most, but his tenure was to end on November 27. But outgoing Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa decided to include his name among the six contenders for the coveted post. The other five names included Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, who has been appointed as the Chiarman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt. Gen. Nauman Mehmood, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed and Lt. Gen. Muhammad Amir.
According to Pakistani daily Dawn, Gen. Munir was commissioned in the Frontier Force Regiment. He has been a close aide of the incumbent COAS ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under Gen Bajwa, who was then Commander X Corps. He was later appointed DG Military Intelligence in early 2017, and in October next year, made the ISI chief. However, he was soon replaced by Lt.Gen. Faiz Hameed on the insistence of former PM Imran Khan. He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, from where he was moved to the GHQ as Quartermaster General two years later.
Lt. Gen, Sahir Shamshad Mirza: He hails from the Sindh Regiment. Lt. Gen. Mirza rose into prominence as director-general military operations (DGMO) when former Gen. Raheel Sharif was COAS. In that role, he supervised the military operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. Besides, he was part of the core team in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that brokered intra-Afghan talks that included Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the United States.
Though Khan may not be able to stall the process, he may be able to delay it, so long as President Arif Alvi who belongs to the Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) cooperates. In the politically surcharged atmosphere, that would give Khan some breathing space to sully the image of a section of the military further, and hope this has a long-term impact on his power struggle with the army, which has been showing signs of losing some of its erstwhile cohesion.
There is a body of opinion in Pakistan that President Alvi can oppose Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's recommendation of appointing Lt. General Asim Munir by a few days. But Alvi would be constitutionally powerless to oppose if Gen. Munir's name is recommended by the Prime Minister for a second time.
At today's press conference, Khan said Alvi will "definitely" consult him as soon as the summary for the appointment of next army chief reaches his office.
"President Dr Arif Alvi will definitely consult me on the summary for the appointment of army chief and take a decision as per the law and Constitution. I am head of the party that Dr Alvi belongs to," he observed.