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Who is Pakistan’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif Lieutenant General Asim Mounir named As the new Secretary of War, I have put an end to days of uncertainty involving the nation.

Mounir, whose nomination was confirmed by President Arif Alvi on Thursday night, will have a 600,000-strong nuclear force when incumbent Gen. Kamal Javed Bajwa retires on Nov. 29 after a six-year term. In charge of armed forces.

Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad has been appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Winner of “Sword of Honor”

Munir joined the Pakistani Armed Forces through the Mangla Officers Training School (OTS) program and earned the prestigious Sword of Honor, given to the highest performing cadet.

He commanded a division overlooking Pakistan’s northern regions, including the disputed area of ​​Kashmir, where he worked alongside Bajwa, who led the Pakistan Army’s Elite X Corps.

pakistani military commander
General Kamal Javed Bajwa to step down as Pakistan Army chief next week [File: Farooq Naeem/AFP]

Mounir, who now serves as Quartermaster General at Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi, is considered an officer with an “impeccable reputation” within the Pakistan Army.

In 2017, he was appointed Chief of Military Intelligence (MI), which is responsible for the military’s internal affairs. The following year, after being promoted to three-star general, he became head of the country’s main spy agency, the Inter-Military Intelligence Service (ISI).

However, his eight-month term as head of the ISI is one of the shortest in the Army’s history. Political commentators said he was sacked after falling out with former prime minister Imran Khan.

“Given his duties as Chief of Intelligence, [ISI] PTI, shortened by Prime Minister Khan after both reportedly dropped out [Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party] Islamabad-based security analyst Muhammad Faisal Khan told Al Jazeera.

“Thus, the government feared that Khan, through President Alvi, would jeopardize the process and try to make Munir’s choice controversial before it actually took effect. Alvi is a founding member of the PTI.

A military source told Al Jazeera that Mounir has a “clear mindset” and that his approach is considered apolitical.

“He is a rare officer in the sense that he has led both the MI and the ISI.

“MI experience helps him see the internal dynamics of the military, while ISI experience helps him with a global outlook for the future.”

Abdul Basit, a Singapore-based Pakistani analyst, said Mounir was a professional soldier who maintained the organization, contrary to the reservations of Khan’s PTI party. away from politics.

“It is true that the military wants to stay out of politics, but whether politicians leave the military is a question to ponder,” he told Al Jazeera.

Mounir had previously served in Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s key allies, Basit added.

Munir was deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the Pakistani military’s close defense cooperation.

“Familiarity in Riyadh is likely to be one of the factors in his appointment to the top post.

“I’ve proven I’m worth it”

Muhammad Jeeshan, a senior retired army official, said Mounir was a senior in the military and had important operational and educational duties.

Zeeshan, now executive director of the Center for Peace, Security and Development Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, said Mounir’s background showed he was groomed for senior positions throughout his career. .

“Based on his postings and the results of his course, it is clear that he has proven himself worthy of the position he is in today,” he told Al Jazeera.

Zeeshan said Munir had served as MI secretary while Bajwa was army secretary and had performed well.

“However, as head of the ISI, he was a little disappointed to be caught up in the evolving political environment. It speaks to his maturity,” said Zeeshan.

On the challenges ahead for Mounir, the retired brigadier general said it was a difficult time in the country.

“His greatest challenge, in my opinion, will be to restore the nation’s trust and confidence in its armed forces.

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