General Asim Munir took charge as Pakistan’s new chief of army staff (COAS) after former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa handed over the “baton of command” to him in a change of command ceremony at the General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
The passing of the baton from an outgoing COAS to an incoming one conveys a cardinal message to the troops the military leadership continues without a break in command.
With the change of command, Gen Asim Munir has become the 17th army chief to assume command of the Pakistan Army.
Gen Bajwa, who was the chief guest, arrived at the venue along with his successor Gen Asim Munir. He was presented guard of honour for the last time as the chief of army staff during the ceremony.
The outgoing army chief, while addressing the ceremony, congratulated his successor, Gen Asim Munir, for being promoted to the four star rank and as the head of the army.
“I have full faith that under his leadership army will reach new heights and his appointment will prove to be a positive for the country,” said Gen Bajwa. He added that he was happy to know that he was retiring by handing the army to an able officer like Gen Munir.
Gen Bajwa said that his journey in the army started 44 years ago and has ended today.
The ceremony was also attended by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu. The former military leadership was also present at the ceremony.
Before the ceremony, Gen Bajwa visited the Yadgar-e-Shuhda for the last time as chief of army staff. Gen Munir had accompanied him during the visit.
PM Shehbaz calls COAS Gen Munir
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif telephoned COAS Gen Munir to congratulate him on assuming the charge. The premier said that it was a great honour for the armed forces to have a brave soldier like him as their commander-in-chief.
He assured Gen Munir that the government will continue to cooperate with him in matters related to the defence, security, and protection of the homeland.
General Asim Munir, a brief overview
Gen Munir was commissioned in the 23rd Frontier Force Regiment in 1986. He passed out with the 17th Officers Training course, Mangla and was awarded the coveted sword of honour.
He is currently posted as the quartermaster general at the General Headquarters. The army chief-designate graduated from Fuji school Japan, Command and Staff College, Quetta, Malaysian Armed Forces College, Kuala Lumpur and National Defence University, Islamabad.
He also has done M. Phil in Public Policy and Strategic Security Management from the National Defence University. The quartermaster general was also posted as a directing staff at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, brigade major of a deployed infantry brigade in Kel, general staff officer, grade-2, CGS secretariat and chief of staff of Mangla corps.
Gen Munir has commanded 23rd Frontier Force Regiment, Infantry Brigade, remained as a force commander in Northern Areas, Gilgit and Corps Commander 30 Corps, Gujranwala. The incoming army chief has also served as DG Military Intelligence.
In 2018, Gen Munir was appointed as director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence. Following this, he was posted as corps commander Gujranwala for two years. After heading the Gujranwala corps he was posted at his present assignment at the GHQ. Gen Munir will become the first army chief who has headed both — the MI and the ISI. The army chief designate is a keen sportsman, avid reader, and traveller.
He was chosen to lead the country’s army by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on November 24. The summary of his appointment was ratified by President Arif Alvi the same day.