Syed Asim Munir: Pakistan names former spy chief as new head of army

Islamabad, Pakistan

Pakistan on Thursday named former spy chief Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir as chief of the South Asian nation’s army, ending weeks of hypothesis over an appointment that comes amid intense debate across the army’s affect on public life.

Munir, the nation’s most senior normal and a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) company, will take over from Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who will retire on November 29 after six years in what is generally a three-year put up.

His promotion, ratified by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and authorised by President Arif Alvi Thursday, means Munir will now oversee Pakistan’s nuclear weapons operations.

The Pakistani army is usually accused of meddling within the politics of a rustic that has skilled quite a few coups and been dominated by generals for prolonged intervals since its formation in 1947, so the appointment of new army chiefs is usually a extremely politicized challenge.

Munir’s appointment might show controversial with supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted from workplace in April after shedding the backing of key political allies and the army amid accusations he had mismanaged the financial system.

Pakistan’s Election Commission final month disqualified Khan from holding political office for 5 years for being concerned in “corrupt practices.”

Munir was faraway from his workplace on the ISI throughout Khan’s time period and the former prime minister has beforehand claimed – with out proof – that the Pakistani army and Sharif conspired with the United States to take away him from energy. After Khan was wounded in a gun attack at a political rally in early November, he additionally accused a senior army intelligence officer – with out proof – of planning his assassination.

Both the Pakistani army and US officers have denied Khan’s claims.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) celebration congratulated Munir on his appointment in an announcement Thursday that additionally accused the army of having an outsized position within the democratic course of.

“The individuals of Pakistan anticipate that their armed forces, whereas coping with an array of exterior threats would keep out of the politics of home affairs and that the rights of the political events is not going to be infringed,” the assertion mentioned.

The assertion additionally reiterated the PTI’s demand for early elections. Khan is because of maintain a rally Saturday within the metropolis of Rawalpindi to repeat that decision in what could be his first public look since being shot.

Khan apart, the new army chief can have loads on his plate, coming into workplace at a time when – along with a burgeoning financial disaster – Pakistan faces the aftermath of the worst floods in its history. He will even should navigate the nation’s notoriously rocky relationship with its neighbor India.

On Wednesday, outgoing army chief Bajwa mentioned the army was typically criticized regardless of being busy “in serving the nation.” He mentioned a significant motive for this was the army’s historic “interference” in Pakistani politics, which he referred to as “unconstitutional.”

He mentioned that in February this yr, the army institution had “determined to not intrude in politics” and was “adamant” in sticking to this place.

Pakistan, a nation of 220 million, has been dominated by 4 completely different army rulers and seen three army coups because it was shaped. No prime minister has ever accomplished a full five-year time period underneath the current structure of 1973.

Uzair Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative on the Atlantic Council, mentioned the army establishment “has misplaced a lot of its fame,” and the new chief had loads of battles forward.

“In historic phrases an army chief wants three months to settle into his position, the new chief may not have that privilege,” Younus mentioned. “With ongoing political polarization there is likely to be the temptation to intervene politically once more.”

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