ISLAMABAD: Gen Asim Munir, an infantry officer from Frontier Force Regiment, on Tuesday assumed command of the Pakistan Army from Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa amidst deepening political and economic crises and an aggravating security situation.
The change of command ceremony at the hockey stadium next to General Headquarters was witnessed by retired and serving officers of the armed forces, government officials, political leaders and Islamabad-based foreign military attachés and advisers.
Gen Munir, who was commissioned in service in 1986, was promoted and designated as Chief of Army Staff last Thursday to succeed Gen Bajwa.
Speaking at the ceremony, Gen Bajwa, who commanded the army for six years, said he was happy that he was “handing over the command to a distinguished and capable officer” upon his retirement. He praised his successor as a “professional and a principled officer” and hoped that the army would be strengthened under Gen Munir and achieve new successes.
He recalled his close association with Gen Munir and said it spanned over nearly 24 years and hoped his appointment would prove good for both the country and the army.
Gen Bajwa also thanked the troops for their support during his tenure.
“In my six year tenure, whether it was the escalation on LoC, terrorism incidents in different parts of the country, law and order challenges, or natural calamities, the Army always responded to my call and the troops gave their blood, when I asked for their sweat.”
He maintained that peace in the country had been achieved and credited that to the sacrifices of the troops. “The sacrifices of our troops are recognized my both our friends and foes. I’m proud of my troops who are defending the motherland with meagre resources,” he said.
Gen Bajwa, who got a three year extension in 2019, has been criticised by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, who blamed the military for not helping foil an alleged US-backed conspiracy against his government, which ended in his ouster through a vote of no confidence in April this year.
The outgoing chief hinted that he had planned a quiet, retired life after relinquishing command saying that he was starting a journey into oblivion, but would remain “spiritually connected” with the army.
The outgoing army chief also looked unhappy with the media. When some reporters approached him as he prepared to leave the ceremony venue and reminded him that media had always been very supportive, he said: “Media,” adding after a rather long pause, “you take care of the new army chief”.
It is expected that Gen Munir would soon be setting up his team and a major reshuffle of the top brass is on the cards. Several positions, including chief of general staff (CGS), have also fallen vacant because of the new four star appointments.
The incumbent CGS, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, had resigned after the government did not promote him. The command positions of Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur corps have also fallen vacant after Gen Mirza was promoted and Lt Gen Faiz Hamid quit following promotions.
The position of Quartermaster General, which is responsible for quartering and supplies, is also vacant after Gen Munir’s elevation.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2022