Pakistan’s Prime Minister has received a list of six names from military General Headquarters for the appointment of two key posts–the next Army Chief who will succeed incumbent Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
Pakistani daily The News International is reporting that the list received by Defence Minister… on Tuesday from the General Headquarters (GHQ) comprises: Lt. Gen Asim Munir, Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt. Gen. Nauman Mehmood, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed and Lt. Gen. Muhammad Amir.
The Ministry of Defence has subsequently sent the names to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) late Tuesday.
The ISPR, the military’s media wing late on Tuesday night tweeted: “GHQ has forwarded the summary for selection of CJCSC and COAS, containing names of 6 senior-most Lt Gens to MoD.”
The appointment of the next army chief, the most powerful person in Pakistan, is at the heart of the power struggle between former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military.
It is well-known that former Prime Minister Khan has been a supporter of former ISI chief and current corps commander in Bahawalpur, Faiz Hameed, who is eligible for an appointment as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Khan has infuriated the current military dispensation by accusing Major General Faisal Naseer of the ISI of masterminding an attempt on his life at Wazirabad, during the first phase of his Long March.
The latest financial scandal involving Gen. Bajwa may have put the outgoing army chief, who plays a key role in picking his successor, on the backfoot.
An investigative report on the website Fact Focus, by Pakistani journalist Ahmad Noorani has revealed that in a matter of a few years after Bajwa became army chief, his family and extended family members, started a new business, owned farmhouses in major Pakistani cities and bought foreign properties, raking in billions of dollars as a result. The report based its findings on the family’s tax records.
According to tradition, the final appointment by the Prime Minister is preceded by the PM’s ‘informal consultation’ with the outgoing army chief, his own perceptions and his discussions with his closest advisors. The outgoing army chief, in this case Gen. Bajwa is the only outgoing army chief, during his ‘informal consultation’ with the prime minister, who provides personal input on who he thinks should succeed him.
But following the ongoing scandal that has impacted his image, Gen. Bajwa’s choice of his successor can be tacitly brought into question.
Among those listed, Lt.Gen. Asim Munir is the senior most, but his tenure will end on November 27. But Gen. Bajwa has decided to include his name among the contenders for the coveted post.
Thread on Lt Gen Asim Munir – Most likely COAS of #pakfauj – 1. Hafeez-e-Quran, presently WMG at GHQ. More religious but an unlikely radical. Has had a stint in SA (DA or dply). He is from OTS unlike the pedigreed #gernails from PMA, Kakul. He is Frontier Force regiment-infantry pic.twitter.com/sBlyq1oh8i
— Raghav Krishnan (@Ares_Speaks) November 23, 2022
According to Pakistani daily Dawn, Gen. Munir was commissioned in the Frontier Force Regiment. He has been a close aide of the incumbent COAS ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under Gen Bajwa, who was then Commander X Corps. He was later appointed DG Military Intelligence in early 2017, and in October next year, made the ISI chief. However, he was soon replaced by Lt.Gen. Faiz Hameed on the insistence of former PM Imran Khan. He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, from where he was moved to the GHQ as Quartermaster General two years later.
Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza: He hails from the Sindh Regiment. Lt. Gen. Mirza rose into prominence as director-general military operations (DGMO) when former Gen. Raheel Sharif was COAS. In that role, he supervised the military operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. Besides, he was part of the core team in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that brokered intra-Afghan talks that included Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the United States.
1) Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza
The senior-most general Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza is currently serving as Corps Commander Rawalpindi. Previously, he was chief of general staff in the General Headquarters of the Pakistan army.++ pic.twitter.com/lldTbcb37F
— Majid Nizami (@majidsnizami) January 20, 2022
Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas:
Lt. Gen. Abbas is probably the most experienced in handling Indian affairs among the contenders. He has commanded the Kashmir-centric X Corps. It was at this time that the Indian and Pakistani armies reached an understanding on respecting the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC).
Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas is the current Chief of General Staff (CGS), commanding intelligence and operations in the #PakistanArmy. He has completed almost thirty-seven years in service and might be the successor to Gen. #QamarJ Bajwa as #COAS pic.twitter.com/TmUaCr0uml
— Pakistan_times_usa (@Pakistantimesua) October 4, 2022
Lt. Gen Nauman Mehmood:
— Tahseen Raza Official (@Mind729Mind) November 18, 2022
Belonging to the Baloch Regiment, Lt-Gen Mehmood is currently president of the National Defence University. He also has extensive experience as chief instructor at the Command and Staff College, Quetta. He has commanded an infantry division based in North Waziristan. From there, he was posted as director-general (Analysis) at the ISI headquarters.
Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed:
Lt. Gen. Hamid belongs to the Baloch Regiment . He and Gen. Bajwa have known each other for long. As brigadier, Lt-Gen Hamid served as chief of staff of the X Corps under Gen Bajwa, who was then commanding the corps.
— Waleed Shabbir 🇵🇰 🇹🇷 (@Waleedshabbir41) November 20, 2022
When Gen. Bajwa became COAS, Lt-Gen Hamid was posted as director-general (Counter-Intelligence) at ISI, and later, after promotion, appointed as DG (ISI). But during his stint at the ISI head, he became the centre of controversy after former PM Khan opposed his transfer to commander Peshawar Corps. Gen. Hamid was, in less than a year, moved from Peshawar to Bahawalpur Corps.
Lt. Gen Mohammad Amir:
Lt Gen Mohammad Amir (Commander Gujranwala Corps). pic.twitter.com/PlHD4FrZ39
— H_khan (@H_akham) November 22, 2022
He belongs to the Artillery Regiment and presently commands the XXX Corps in Gujranwala. Known as a close confidant of Gen Bajwa, he was previously posted as adjutant-general at GHQ.