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ISI Head During Pulwama, 'Close to Bajwa': Who is Lt Gen Asim Munir, Pakistan's New Army Chief?

By: News Desk

Edited By: Vidushi Sagar

News18.com

Last Updated: November 24, 2022, 15:15 IST

New Delhi, India

Maryam Aurangzeb tweeted Sharif’s decision to name Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new army chief, shortly after the premier presided over a crucial Cabinet meeting in Islamabad (Image: ANI Twitter)

Maryam Aurangzeb tweeted Sharif’s decision to name Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new army chief, shortly after the premier presided over a crucial Cabinet meeting in Islamabad (Image: ANI Twitter)

Explained: Lt Gen Asim Munir was the head of the ISI when tensions between the two countries reached a peak following the Pulwama bombing in February 2019

Lt General Asim Munir was on Thursday appointed the Chief of Army Staff by Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza became the new chairman joint chiefs of staff committee. Read more

Maryam Aurangzeb tweeted Sharif’s decision to name Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new army chief, shortly after the premier presided over a crucial Cabinet meeting in Islamabad. Munir would replace retiring army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Who is Asim Munir?

Lt-Gen Munir joined the Frontier Force Regiment after graduating from the Officers Training School (OTS) programme in Mangla. He has been a close aide to the COAS since he was a brigadier in the Force Command Northern Areas under Gen Bajwa, who was then Commander X Corps. He was later named DG Military Intelligence in early 2017, and ISI chief in October of the following year, the Dawn reported.

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However, his tenure as the top intelligence officer was the shortest in history, as he was replaced by Lt-Gen Faiz Hamid within eight months, at the request of then-PM Imran Khan. He was assigned as Gujranwala Corps commander for two years before being transferred to the GHQ as Quartermaster General.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is said to have been unhappy with Lt General Munir and replaced him within eight months after he brought the alleged corruption charges against his wife to his attention.

Lt Gen Asim Munir is said to be well-versed in Indian affairs. He was the head of the ISI when tensions between the two countries reached a peak following the Pulwama bombing in February 2019. According to reports, Lt Gen Munir was a key decision-maker in the military involved in shaping Pakistan’s response and security policies at the time.

The Importance of Army, ISI in Pakistan

The army is arguably the most influential institution in Pakistan, with the military having ruled the country for nearly half of its 71-year history since independence from Britain and enjoying extensive powers even under civilian administrations.

The head of the ISI occupies one of the most important posts in Pakistan. The agency has long been accused of supporting Islamist militants targeting neighbor and India as well as sheltering the Afghan Taliban and other militants.

Why India Watched the Appointment

India had kept a close eye on the situation because the new Pakistani Army chief is expected to influence the government’s tone on bilateral relations with New Delhi and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The new commander will have an impact on the two countries’ most contentious issue, Kashmir, a report by CNBC-TV18 explained.

Gen Bajwa, the outgoing commander, had authorised the restoration of the ceasefire agreement with India along the Line of Control in 2021 (LoC). The new commander’s approach will determine whether India faces disruption at the international border. He will also have a say in whether the government leans toward China or the US.

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first published:November 24, 2022, 13:14 IST
last updated:November 24, 2022, 15:15 IST