Thursday May 30, 2024

Turmoil ends: Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

Gen Asim Munir designated next COAS, Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza is new CJCSC

By Muhammad Anis & News Desk
November 25, 2022
COAS-designate General Asim Munir. — ISPR
COAS-designate General Asim Munir. — ISPR  

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi finally signed the summary giving his assent to the PM’s decision to appoint General Asim Munir as the next Chief of the Army Staff and Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on Thursday, bringing to an end a nerve-wracking week due to political commotion surrounding the key postings in the Pakistan Army. The prime minister said both the appointments were made keeping in view the principle of seniority, which would bring strength and stability to the institution and the country.

An official handout from the President’s office and the Ministry of Defence also confirmed the Alvi’s assent to the PM’s summary on the subject. Later, in the evening both officers separately called on the president, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the prime minister.

President Dr Arif Alvi has promoted Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, HI(M), to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from 27th November 2022,” an official statement issued by the President’s Secretariat said. “The president promoted Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir HI(M) to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chief of Army Staff with effect from 29th November 2022,” it also stated.

The statement said that the promotions and appointments were made under Article 243(4) (a)&(b) and Article 48(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan read with sections 8-A and 8-D of the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

Hours before the statement was issued, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, in a media talk in Islamabad, said that the advisory sent to President Alvi by the government has been approved. “The president has signed [the summary],” he said, calling it a good omen. The defence minister said the process of the army chief’s appointment had “caused unrest” in the country but the matter was now “settled”. “I believe that all the people, especially politicians, should bring their behaviors under the ambit of the law and Constitution.”

The prime minister said promotions on principle of seniority would strengthen the institution and bring stability to the country. DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum also called on the prime minister and discussed issues of national security.

Earlier, uncertainty surrounding the president’s approval of the key appointments took centre stage after the head of the state departed to Lahore to hold a meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan. All eyes were on the meeting as Imran Khan, in an interview Wednesday night, had said that he and President Alvi would play “legally and constitutionally” on the matter.

However, the Aiwan-e-Sadr announced on Thursday evening that President Arif Alvi had promoted Lt-Gen Asim Munir with an immediate effect and appointed him as the COAS with effect from Nov 29. It also announced promotion of Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as a four-star general, and his appointment as the CJCSC with effect from Nov 27. The announcements said that the appointments were made in accordance with Article 243(3)(a) and 243(3)(b) of the Constitution.

The newly-appointed CJCSC and COAS separately called on President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Aiwan-e-Sadr and Prime Minister’s House. The President and the PM congratulated the two generals over their appointment and expressed best wishes for them. The PM was confident that under the new leadership, the armed forces would meet the challenges on the front of national security effectively. He hoped the armed forces would also continue to eliminate the menace of terrorism in the country.

“My congratulations and best wishes to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee-designate Lt. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Chief of the Army Staff-designate Lt. General Asim Munir on their appointment,” tweeted PM Shehbaz.

He said the appointments were made on merit, adding that applying the principle of seniority in state institutions would serve to strengthen the institutions as well as the country. Shehbaz said despite immense pressure, he had made a decision on merit and upheld the principle of seniority. He said there was no space for anarchy and chaos in the country.

With the signing of the summary by President Alvi, the appointments of COAS and CJCSC now enjoy unanimous support of the country’s whole political leadership. As per the Constitution of Pakistan, the President is bound to act on the advice of the prime minister in making appointments of the CJCSC and three services chiefs.

The Article 243(3) says that the President shall, on advice of the PM, appoint the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff. The Article 8A of the Pakistan Army Act, 2020 also says the President shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a general as the Chief of the Army Staff, for a tenure of three years and that the terms and conditions of the Chief of the Army Staff shall be determined by the President, on the advice of the PM.

The PM picked two senior-most Lt. Generals for promotion as four-star generals and, therefore, none of the three-star officers were superseded.

The PM House announced nomination of two senior Lt. Generals for two top slots of Pakistan Army after PM Shehbaz Sharif chaired a special federal cabinet meeting to take the cabinet members into confidence.

The cabinet had also developed a Plan B in case the president would not approve the summary. The cabinet froze the retirement of Army Chief General Asim Munir and retained him under the Pakistan Army Act amended rules. While the cabinet also approved amendments to the Rules of Business.

As per the discussion in the meeting, if the president had returned the summary after passing the date of Lt-Gen Asim Munir’s retirement, it would have been ineffective and if the president would have held on to the summary for 25 days, the army chief would still be Asim Munir.