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 navy’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 often a three-year submit.
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 navy is commonly 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 commonly a extremely politicized challenge.
Munir’s appointment could show controversial with supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted from workplace in April after dropping the backing of key political allies and the navy amid accusations he had mismanaged the economic 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 navy 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 navy intelligence officer – with out proof – of planning his assassination.
Both the Pakistani navy and US officers have denied Khan’s claims.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) social gathering congratulated Munir on his appointment in an announcement Thursday that additionally accused the navy of having an outsized function within the democratic course of.
“The people of Pakistan expect that their armed forces, while dealing with an array of external threats would stay out of the politics of domestic affairs and that the rights of the political parties will not be infringed,” the assertion stated.
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 can be his first public look since being shot.
Khan apart, the new army chief may have a lot on his plate, getting into workplace at a time when – along with a burgeoning financial disaster – Pakistan faces the aftermath of the worst floods in its history. He may also need to navigate the nation’s notoriously rocky relationship with its neighbor India.
On Wednesday, outgoing army chief Bajwa stated the army was usually criticized regardless of being busy “in serving the nation.” He stated a significant motive for this was the army’s historic “interference” in Pakistani politics, which he known as “unconstitutional.”
He stated that in February this yr, the navy institution had “decided to not interfere in politics” and was “adamant” in sticking to this place.
Pakistan, a nation of 220 million, has been dominated by 4 completely different navy rulers and seen three navy coups because it was fashioned. No prime minister has ever accomplished a full five-year time period beneath the current structure of 1973.
Uzair Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative on the Atlantic Council, stated the navy establishment “has lost so much of its reputation,” and the new chief had a lot of battles forward.
“In historical terms an army chief needs three months to settle into his role, the new chief might not have that privilege,” Younus stated. “With ongoing political polarization there might be the temptation to intervene politically again.”