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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Expectations from the new COAS

General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s new military chief, took command this week amid security and economic crises and a deepening political rift between opposition leader Imran Khan and the government.

The new COAS Gen Asim Munir soon after taking over the command of the Army on 29 Nov, issued a directive to do away with the pompous ceremony of change of command and to make it a simple affair. He also indicated his intention of lowering the status and scope of ISPR Dte and to gradually lower its command to the level of a Brig as used to be the practice in the past.

In other words, the usage of ISPR for the promotion of the image of the army chief and the army through TV dramas, etc, or helping a political party to digitalise its media cell, would be discouraged. These two acts give a clear indication of his future course of action.

Read more: COAS Asim Munir was a fast bowler during his teens

Understanding the matter better

In my reckoning, he will enforce austerity and simplicity in the army, minimize grandeur, cut down VIP culture in the Army and will stay away from politics as was told by his predecessor Gen Bajwa. He and his Corps and Div commanders will have to work hard to take out politics from the minds of all ranks and their families.

His focus will be on restoring the damaged image of the army, achieving traditional cohesion in all ranks, and ensuring an effective chain of command. He will have zero tolerance for cases of immorality, ill-discipline and insubordination.

The practice of senior army officers hobnobbing with politicians will be debarred. The latter would also be prohibited from visiting GHQ or offices/residences of army officers. He will emphasize reviving the old ethics, dignity, honor and esprit de corps in the rank and file of the army. Like Gen Zia ul Haq and Lt Gen GM, he will encourage offering five times prayers and reading the Qur’an.

His prime focus will however be on keeping the army operationally, technically, and administratively 100% fit and ideologically fully motivated to take on the external and internal security challenges, as well as to mentally be strong enough to thwart the poison of subversion. In this regard, he will remain mindful of the threat of hybrid war and the negative influence of social media upon the serving officers.

I am sure Gen Asim must be knowing the senior officers maintaining close links with political parties and involved in a whispering campaign against the army leadership.

He must not have remained oblivious to the poor role of the army veterans, spreading venom against Gen Bajwa and the senior army officers through the veterans-run websites and groups and weakening the institutional fabric of the army.

Read more: General Asim Munir assumes charge as 17th COAS of Pakistan

While some steps have already been taken, more must be in the pipeline to keep five million veterans within limits of decency and discipline and refrain them from promoting the agenda of enemies of Pakistan; and motivate them to stay loyal to the Army instead of political parties and political icons.

As per the tradition of the army, Gen Asim has also formed his core team

He will be placing the right officers in the right places. CGS, Comd 10 Corps, 1 Corps, 4, 5 and 11 Corps, CGS, DG ISI, DG MI, Comd SSG and Comd 111 Bde are critical posts where he would like to have his trustworthy confidantes.

Vacancies have occurred due to the early retirement of two to three Lt Gens. Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, Comd 31 Corps is being retired on his request. Lt Gen Mazhar Abbas, CGS, is also retiring. It is to be seen whether Lt Gen Asif Ghafur, Comd 12 Corps would stay on or retire. These three officers and Lt Gen Nauman, Comdt NDU, are due to retire in Apr 2023.

The first set of postings of senior officers is out and the details are as under:

1. Lt Gen Saeed posted from 5 Corps to CGS.
2. Lt Gen Shahid Imtiaz, Comdt Infantry School, posted as Comd 10 Corps.
3. Lt Gen Muhammad Ali Comd Army Strategic Force Central, posted as QMG.
4. Lt Gen Saqib, Comd CLS, posted as Comd 31 Corps.
5. Lt Gen Nauman Zakria, VCGS, posted as Comd CLS.
6. Lt Gen Babar Ifitkhar, DG ISPR, posted as Comd 5 Corps.
7. Maj Gen Shahbaz, GOC 10 Div, promoted to Lt Gen and posted as Comd ASFC.
8. Maj Gen Ahmad Sharif, Comdt DESTO, posted as DG ISPR.


Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman of the Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, member CWC and Think Tank, Pakistan ex Servicemen Society, and member Council Tehreek Jawanan Pakistan. asifharoonraja@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.