After days of deliberation and speculation, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has chosen Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new army chief. He has replaced incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The appointment of General Asim Munir is a crucial step and one of the most significant developments in Pakistan in recent months, as the army chief is a powerful figure in the country where democracy is still shaking.
Asim Munir’s India link
Meanwhile, General Munir has strong India links. He was Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief during the 2019 Pulwama attack which raised tensions between India and Pakistan, according to a Hindustan Times report. He was also instrumental in Pakistan’s security policies and response during the sensitive period.
Munir was reportedly not on good terms with the then-Prime Minister Imran Khan. He was then removed as ISI chief at Imran Khan’s behest. There was speculation that Khan was annoyed with Munir after he allegedly ‘implicated’ Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, in several corrupt practices.
Asim Munir’s appointment a move to counter Imran Khan?
He then became the Commander of the Gujranwala Corps. From there he moved to his present posting at GHQ, Rawalpindi. According to Dawn, Munir is very close to General Bajwa.
This is the reason that the appointment of Munir as Pakistan’s new army chief is seen as an attempt to counter Imran Khan and his growing influence in the country. A section of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) backed his appointment and said Munir could stand up to Khan as the new army chief.