Lieutenant-Normal Syed Asim Munir was the shortest serving head of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s notorious spy company. He was appointed the ISI head in October 2018 by the Military chief, Normal Qamar Javed Bajwa. However eight months later, he was changed with Lt.Gen. Faiz Hamid on the insistence of then Prime Minister Imran Khan. The cricketer-turned-politician, who got here to energy a couple of months earlier, was nonetheless having fun with heat ties with the army institution, which couldn’t overlook his needs. Whereas there was no official phrase on why the ISI chief was fired, an alleged audio clip of Aleem Khan, a former chief of Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), surfaced earlier this 12 months wherein he accused the previous Prime Minister of sacking Lt.Gen. Munir for exposing corruption of his spouse, Bushra Bibi.
In three years, the tables have turned. Mr. Khan, who fell out with the army, was ousted from energy in April by a no-confidence vote. As he’s making an attempt to make a comeback by political mobilisation throughout the nation, Lt.Gen. Munir has been appointed the Chief of the Military Workers (COAS), arguably probably the most highly effective place in Pakistan.
It was hardly a secret that Mr. Khan’s PTI was steadfastly against Lt.Gen. Munir’s appointment. However Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his brother and former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif (who’s in exile in London), had their method in selecting the successor of Gen. Bajwa, who would retire on November 29 after six years on the prime. “We hope that the brand new management of the armed forces of Pakistan will play its constitutional position… and keep out of the politics of home affairs…,” Mr. Khan’s social gathering mentioned in a press release about Lt.Gen. Munir’s appointment, with out congratulating the following COAS.
Little is understood about what Lt.Gen. Munir thinks of the vital challenges Pakistan is going through — from civil army relations to tackling ties with India, managing Afghanistan and balancing between the U.S. and China. All these years, he has saved a low profile, avoiding public feedback and controversies. However he has held a number of key posts within the army, a sign that the highest brass has been grooming him for management roles. He entered the service by the Officers Coaching Faculty programme in Mangla, the place he gained the celebrated Sword of Honour, an honorary sword given to finest performing cadets. He began his army profession as a Second Lieutenant in 1986 when the army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq was ruling Pakistan.
As a Brigadier, he commanded the Pakistani troops within the Northern Areas, which incorporates Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, below Gen. Bajwa. After Gen. Bajwa turned the Military chief in November 2016, Lt.Gen. Munir rose by the ranks rapidly. He was appointed the Navy Intelligence Director-Normal in 2017 and have become a (three-star) Lieutenant-Normal in September 2018. In the identical 12 months, Gen. Bajwa promoted him because the ISI Director-Normal, however his fallout with Mr. Khan value him the job. Nonetheless, Lt.Gen. Munir survived Mr. Khan’s ire. He was posted as Gujranwala Corps Commander for 2 years after which moved to the Normal Headquarters in Rawalpindi as a Quartermaster Normal, accountable for provides.
Among the many names that did the rounds for the COAS, which additionally included Lt.Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt.Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt.Gen. Nauman Mehmood and Lt.Gen. Faiz Hamid (who was mentioned to be Mr. Khan’s favorite), Lt.Gen. Munir was the senior most. His four-year time period as a Lt.Gen. was to finish on November 27 (Sunday). However two days later, he would grow to be a four-star Normal, starting a three-year time period because the COAS.
Pakistani media time period him a “religious”, “clear-headed” soldier dedicated to defending the pursuits of the army and the state. There have been situations of Lt.Gen. Munir performing swiftly to guard the army and the ISI from public criticism. In July 2018, Islamabad Excessive Court docket decide Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui criticised the ISI, saying the company was manipulating judicial proceedings to get beneficial selections. Justice Siddiqui was sacked in October that 12 months by President Arif Alvi on a advice from the Supreme Judicial Council for misconduct, a couple of days after Lt.Gen. Munir turned the ISI chief. Political analyst and writer Shuja Nawaz writes in his ebook, The Battle for Pakistan, that the Supreme Court docket’s choice was an instance of Lt.Gen. Munir’s “overreach”. Mr. Nawaz writes that Lt.Gen. Munir has the “fame of a hardliner” and “a troublesome officer rooted in Islamic custom”. Lt.Gen. Munir can also be referred to as a Hafiz-e-Quran, who memorised the holy ebook throughout his posting in Saudi Arabia as a Lieutenant-Colonel.
Lt.Gen. Munir takes over the 6,00,000-strong army with nuclear weapons at a vital time for Pakistan. Gen. Bajwa’s six-year time period has seen combined outcomes for the nation. With regard to India, relations took an enormous hit after the post-Pulwama clashes (Lt.Gen. Munir was the ISI chief when the Pulwama assault befell in February 2019 wherein 40 Indian personnel have been killed). However two years later, India and Pakistan agreed to resume a ceasefire that was in tatters. Below Gen. Bajwa, Pakistan oversaw the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan, which appeared to have given a strategic victory to the institution. However the Taliban’s return additionally posed new safety and strategic challenges for Pakistan, with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) gaining momentum from their Afghan brothers’ triumph and ramping up assaults. At residence, the army, which has all the time remained the ability behind the throne, confronted a credibility disaster after Mr. Khan, who was earlier backed by the Generals, accused them of plotting his ouster from energy. With Mr. Khan travelling throughout the nation mobilising 1000’s of individuals and publicly attacking the army and his political rivals, the institution has acquired a well-liked rival within the political class.
Amid a bunch of challenges, Lt.Gen. Munir must get his priorities proper. “I count on continuity between Bajwa and Munir on India coverage. Bajwa sought to restrict tensions, as evidenced by the brand new border truce final 12 months and his deal with extra regional commerce and connectivity, in addition to Pakistan’s muted response to the errant Indian missile that landed in Pakistan,” mentioned Michael Kugelman, South Asia Institute Director at The Wilson Middle, Washington DC. “With Munir and the Military on the entire wanting the primary coverage focus to be on stabilising Pakistan politically and economically, the very last thing they’ll need is a contemporary disaster with India. So I count on Munir, not less than initially, to endorse Bajwa’s efforts to maintain tensions down within the relationship with India, and deal with getting issues in higher order at residence.”
Discovering methods to stabilise home politics, the place Mr. Khan stays what Pakistani journalist Abbas Nasir calls a “cornered tiger”, wouldn’t be a straightforward process. “If Munir concludes that political stability is extra seemingly with early polls, and he presses the federal government to comply with them, that would inject tensions into what have been clean civil-relations in latest months, post-Khan ouster. That mentioned, given the experiences of previous variations between Khan and Munir, Munir seemingly isn’t about to do Khan any favours, not less than not initially. And we are able to’t rule out him endorsing efforts by the state to attempt to undermine Khan’s electoral prospects,” Mr. Kugelman advised The Hindu. Difficult days are forward for each the army and Mr. Khan.