Who is Lt Gen Asim Munir, Pakistan’s next Army Chief?

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Lt Gen Munir will succeed outgoing COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires on November 29 after six years in service. The choice of Munir, made by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, now awaits approval from the President of Pakistan.

The Indian Express takes a look at Lt General Munir’s life and service as he ascends to becoming arguably the most powerful man in Pakistan.

Military Service

Asim Munir entered military service via the Officer’s Training School (OTS) in Mangla, Punjab. He was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of Pakistan’s Frontier Force Regiment. As an officer, he rose rapidly through the ranks and held several important positions.

Munir has been a close aide to Gen Bajwa since his days as a Brigadier in the Force Command, Northern Areas between 2014 and 2016, Pakistani media said. The outgoing chief was then the Commander X Corps, based out of Rawalpindi.

In early 2017, Asim Munir was made the director-general of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence, serving for a period of 21 months. In October 2018, he rose to the coveted position of director-general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan.

He was the 23rd director-general of the agency, but he had the shortest tenure ever at this position, lasting a mere eight months. He was removed allegedly under pressure from then Prime Minister Imran Khan. His relationship with Imran is likely to be testy.

After being moved out of the ISI, he was posted as Commander XXX Corps, based out of Gujranwala between 2019 and 2021, before moving to the General Headquarters as the quartermaster general for slightly more than the last year.

Dark Horse

Lt General Munir was not necessarily the frontrunner to become COAS after General Bajwa due to his own impending retirement. He became a two-star general back in September 2018, taking charge a couple of months later.

According to Pakistan military rules, his four-year tenure as Lt General was to end on November 27, 2022, just two days before the date he is now expected to take over as Chief. As COAS, Munir will get a 3-year term, which means he is likely to hold the position till at least 2025.

Speaking to the media minutes after the announcement was made, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the appointment was made according to the law and the Constitution, asking the nation to refrain from viewing it through a “political lens”.