New COAS Gen Asim takes reins

PM congratulates new COAS, assures government’s full support

Kamran Yousuf November 29, 2022



General Sayed Asim Munir on Tuesday took charge as the 17th Army chief of Pakistan at a ceremony held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The change of command ceremony took place after a gap of six years, as General Qamar Javed Bajwa, now retired, was given a three-year extension in 2019.

Held at the Army Hockey Ground, it was attended by military leadership from the armed forces, former army chiefs, senior officers and leaders from all political parties. Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser and Hamad Azhar to name a few from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were also in attendance.

Amid extraordinary security clampdown, the outgoing army chief handed the baton of command over to General Asim in a smooth transfer of power.

Conspicuous by their absence were Lt General Azhar Abbas and Lt General Faiz Hameed. Both the generals have sought early retirement, though they could have continued their service till April next year.

In his address of farewell, General Bajwa felicitated Asim Munir's elevation to the seat of army chief and expressed confidence that his promotion will prove to be highly positive -- both for the country and Pakistan Army. He said he had 24-hour association with the new army chief.

He maintained that General Munir is a professional and capable officer and a man of principle. General Bajwa said he was confident that under the leadership of Asim Munir, the army would achieve more success and further serve and defend the country.

The outgoing COAS added that he was honoured to have served the army. He said during his six-year tenure as the army chief, "Pakistan Army tackled many challenges, be it the situation on the Line of Control, terrorism or the natural calamities".

He said he was proud of the army that "despite limited resources, fulfilling its responsibility of defending each nook and corner of the country".

"Pakistan today is the abode of peace because of our sacrifices which are also acknowledged both by our foes and friends," he added.

Hours after Gen Asim took charge, Prime Minister Shebhaz called the new army chief and congratulated him over his new role.

“It is no less than a blessing that Pakistan has got such a capable and courageous army chief,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in the official handout.

The prime minister said he was confident that army under his command would grow professionally and that would further strengthen the defense of  Pakistan.
Shebhaz assured the new army chief of the government’s all-out support in protecting and defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. The new army chief thanked the prime minister for his best wishes.

Prior to the ceremony, General Bajwa and General Munir laid a floral wreath at the Yadgar-e-Shuhada.

Gen Asim is the first army chief who headed both the Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). General Ahsanul Haq was the other four-star who led both secret agencies but he was the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

General Asim joined the army in 1986 through Officer Training School (OTS) Mangla and was awarded sword of honor. He was the number 1 in order of seniority when the summary was sent to the PM Office for the appointment of army chief.

The challenges for the new chief

The change of command in the army came at a time when the country is facing multiple challenges, including deepening political crises, resurgence of militancy. However, for Gen Asim, many observers believe, the single biggest challenge is to restore public image of the security establishment.

Under General Bajwa’s six-year extended tenure, the army faced criticism first from the PML-N, when it was in the opposition and now from the party of former prime minister Imran Khan.

 “Knowing General Asim, I believe he will keep the army away from political matters,” commented a retired three-star, who was his senior after the change of command ceremony.

“He is a good officer. He has impeccable integrity. My advice to him will be to stay out of politics,” another retired general told Express Tribune after the ceremony.

Gen Bajwa, at the fag end of his tenure, attempted to withdraw the army from the political matters. Gen Asim is thought to be one of the officers, who strongly advocated for the army to stay neutral when the state institution was coming under increased scrutiny for its alleged meddling in politics.

The coalition government led by Prime Minister Shebhaz Sharif, who appointed Gen Asim as army chief, hoped that the army, under his command, will no longer play a role in politics.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read