ISLAMABAD: After much tumult and controversy over who should become the next army chief, Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir has been named to the post. He will take charge on November 29 when the incumbent, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, leaves office at the scheduled end of his six-year tenure, which included a three-year extension in 2019.
After Gen. Bajwa, Gen. Munir is the senior-most officer in the army, currently serving as Quartermaster General at General Headquarters (GHQ).
He is said to be close to Gen. Bajwa. As a brigadier, he was a commander in the Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) at a time when Gen. Bajwa was commander of the X Corps assigned in Rawalpindi. The FCNA falls under the command of the X Corps.
Gen. Munir is a graduate of the Officers Training School (OTS) in Mangla, and the senior most of the present crop of two-star generals, who are all from the same batch of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA).
By all accounts, he is an “outstanding officer” and was recently described by Shuja Nawaz, the author of Crossed Swords, a detailed account of the Pakistan Army’s internal role, as “a straight arrow”.
He is also the recipient of the nation’s second-highest Hilal-i-Imtiaz honour.
SAHIR SHAMSHAD MIRZA
Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), hails from the Sindh Regiment, the same unit as the outgoing JCSC boss Gen. Nadeem Raza.
He has had an impressive career in the army, particularly in senior leadership positions during the last seven years.
He came to prominence as the director general of Military Operations (DG MO) between 2015 and 2016.
In that role, he was part of Gen. Raheel Sharif’s core team at the GHQ, which supervised the military offensive against the Afghanistan-based Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan.
Moreover, Gen. Mirza was closely involved in the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group that brokered intra-Afghan talks involving Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the United States.
He was also a member of a committee on reforms for the Gilgit-Baltistan region in the 2013-18 government of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
After his promotion to the three-star rank, he was appointed chief of general staff, effectively making him the second-most powerful man in the army after Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In that role, he was closely engaged in crucial decision-making related to national security and foreign affairs. He also joined former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in strategic talks with Wang Yi, foreign minister of China, in 2021.
In October 2021, he was posted as commander of X Corps, enabling him to acquire the operational required experience to become eligible for consideration for ultimate office.