Pakistan on Thursday appointed former intelligence chief Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir as the South Asian nation’s military commander, ending weeks of speculation about an appointment that took place amid intense debate surrounding his photo. military influence on public life.
In a Twitter post, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Munir’s appointment would be approved after the brief sent by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been signed by the country’s president.
Munir, the former head of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), will take over from Army Commander-in-Chief Qamar Javed Bajwawho will retire on November 29 after six years in office, usually three years.
The Pakistani military is often accused of meddling in the politics of a country that has undergone many coups and has been ruled by generals for a long time since its founding in 1947, so the appointment of Commanding a new army is often a highly political issue.
Munir’s appointment could be controversial with former Prime Minister’s supporters Imran Khanwho is overthrow resigned in April after losing the support of key political allies and the military amid accusations that he had mismanaged the economy.
Munir was sacked at ISI during Khan’s tenure and the former prime minister had previously claimed – without evidence – that the Pakistani and Sharif military conspired with the US to remove him from power. After Khan was injured in a gun attack At a political rally in early November, he also accused a senior military intelligence officer – without evidence – of planning to assassinate him.
Both the Pakistani military and US officials denied Khan’s claims.
Khan has yet to comment on Munir’s appointment, although his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a tweet on Thursday that he would “act according to the constitution and the law.”
Khan aside, the new army chief will have a lot of work to do, taking office at a time when – in addition to the ongoing economic crisis – Pakistan is also facing the consequences of the crisis. worst floods in its history. He will also have to navigate the country’s famously fractured relationship with neighboring India.
On Wednesday, outgoing army chief Bajwa said the army is often criticized despite being busy “serving the nation”. He said the main reason for this was the military’s historic “intervention” in Pakistani politics, which he called “unconstitutional”.
He said that in February of this year, the military establishment “decided not to interfere in politics” and “resolutely” stood by this position.
Pakistan, a country of 220 million people, has been ruled by four different military leaders and has seen three military coups since the country was founded. No prime minister has ever served a full five-year term under the current 1973 constitution.
Uzair Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said the military organization “has lost too much of its reputation” and that the new head has a lot of battles ahead.
“In historical terms, an army commander needs three months to settle into his role, a new commander might not have that privilege,” Younus said. “With ongoing political polarization, there may be the temptation to intervene politically again.”