A smooth transition of command of the Armed Forces of Pakistan took place at 10 AM on 29 November 2022, at GHQ, Rawalpindi. General Asim Munir took over as the new chief of army staff (COAS) at a ceremony held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. He became the country’s 17th army chief. The ceremony kicked off with the GHQ military band performing national songs and a medley of folk tunes. Prior to the ceremony, both Gen Bajwa and Gen Munir laid a wreath at the Yadgar-i-Shuhada (Monument to Martyrs) in GHQ and offered fateha.
General Asim Munir was picked for the most prestigious post for being the senior officer in the Pakistan Army after outgoing Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Understanding the matter better
Gen Asim Munir, who was serving as Quartermaster General in the Pakistan Army at the time of his promotion, entered the service via the Officers Training School (OTS) program in Mangla and was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment. He commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under Gen Bajwa, who was then Commander X Corps. He was appointed DG of the Military Intelligence in early 2017 and then ISI Director General in October 2018. Eight months later, he was posted as Gujranwala Corps Commander. He was moved to the GHQ as Quartermaster General two years later.
Gen Munir is the recipient of the Sword of Honour from the 17th course of the Officers Training School in Mangla. Also, he is the recipient of the Hilal-i-Imtiaz award. He is the first army chief in the history of Pakistan who is a ‘Hafiz-e-Quran’. He belongs to a well-known religious family in Rawalpindi. He memorized the Holy Quran at a seminary, DarulTajweedul Quran, located near DAV College Road in the garrison city. He’s a student of the late Islamic preacher Hafiz Khalil Ahmed. His father served as a principal of a Tariqabad school in Rawalpindi Cantonment and he too was a ‘Hafiz-e-Quran’. He is a thorough gentleman and professional soldier.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC)
The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC)) is, in principle, the highest-ranking and senior-most uniformed military officer, typically at four-star rank, in the Pakistan Armed Forces who serves as a Principal Staff Officer and a chief military adviser to the civilian government led by the Prime minister of Pakistan and his/her National Security Council. The Chairman leads the meetings and coordinates the combined efforts of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), comprising the Chairman, the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff, the Commandant of Marines, DG Coast Guards and Strategic Plans Division, and commanders of the service branches in the paramilitary command. Constitutionally it is the most important post.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has appointed Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCSC). He was Corps Commander Rawalpindi. He also served as chief of general staff (CGS) – a key position most army chiefs held in the past. The CGS is known as the de facto army chief since he heads both the operational and intelligence directorates. In simple words, every file in the army goes through the CGS table.
Previously, he served as the Director of General Military Operations (DGMO). General Mirza has an interesting personal background. He lost his parents at an early age. He rose to this position with sheer hard work and struggle. It is stated that he mentioned his unit in the parents’ column.
Those who know Gen Mirza closely say he enjoys a good reputation in the army. He is not involved in any controversy and there is not much debate about his candidature.
General Asim Munir was the Senior Most General in the Pakistan Army, and General Sahir Shamshad Mirza was second on the same list. It is a good precedence that seniority prevails in the appointments. In the past, few civilian PMs have appointed generals of their own choice ignoring seniority. Which leads politicization aspect of the armed forces. It is urged that legislation may be made to respect seniority.
Just like in the judiciary, where seniority is always respected and there was no speculation or faux at the time of appointment of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. If, a similar practice is made compulsory in the Pakistan Army, then, the civilian Government will not be able to exercise nepotism and the senior most officers who are most deserving will be appointed automatically. It will close the doors of speculations and media hype too while saving Pakistan’s professional Army from being politicized.
As Pakistan is passing through the worst political and economic crisis, the nations have high expectations from both appointments. Both are merit-based, highly professional, and understand their responsibilities and public expectations will meet the national requirements. They are capable to counter internal as well as external challenges. Pakistan is the only nuclear power in the Muslim world and strongest army.
It is resilient and fully capable to handle all circumstances. Its command is in the right hands and it will strengthen the institutions and restore the reputation of professionalism. Masses always stand with the Armed Forces of Pakistan.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: email@example.com). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.