ISLAMABAD: Senior military promotions in Pakistan, especially at the three-star level, are closely watched as they are indicative of potential future leaders within the powerful Army.

These appointments impact both the military policy and the broader political landscape, potentially altering the balance of power within Pakistan’s complex political framework.

The Army, under former chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, announced its intention to recede from political affairs. Reflecting this stance, the Army ceased publicly announcing senior-level promotions and postings, though such information often surfaces on social media through military-affiliated accounts.

The first significant reshuffle under Gen Asim Munir, who took command last year, was not officially publicised last December.

Corps commanders Gujranwala, Quetta changed

The latest promotions and reshuffles, including the appointment of the Chief of General Staff (CGS) position, were too made discreetly.

Lt Gen Avais Dastgir, newly promoted to three-star rank, was named the 38th CGS, succeeding the retiring Lt Gen Muhammad Saeed. The CGS, second in influence only to the army chief, oversees operational and intelligence matters, with the Directorates of Military Operations and Military Intelligence under his command.

The promotion of Gen Dastgir, from the 58th Cavalry Armoured Corps and former director general of military operations, is viewed as a sign of the army chief’s continued confidence in him. His immediate appointment as CGS following promotion is a rarity in the military, a precedent set by Gen Bajwa with Lt Gen Bilal Akbar.

Gen Dastgir, who has also worked under COAS Gen Asim Munir during his days as commander Gujranwala Corps, is seen as a symbol of policy continuity. His shift from DGMO to CGS suggests an acceleration of existing policies, said a retired lieutenant general.

Additionally, new commanders for the Gujranwala and Quetta corps were appointed.

Lt Gen Syed Imdad Hussain Shah of the 33rd Azad Kashmir Regiment is taking over the Gujranwala-based 30 Corps. Previously, he served as director general of H Secretariat at the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), focusing on external intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region. He has, as a brigadier, served as a peacekeeper with the UN forces in Congo.

In a widely discussed swap, Lt Gen Rahat Naseem, President of the National Defence University (NDU), was appointed as commander of the 12 Corps in Quetta. His predecessor, Lt Gen Asif Ghafoor, former director general of ISPR, now heads the NDU.

Further appointments include Lt Gen Muhammad Aqeel of the 2nd Frontier Force Regiment as Inspector General Comm­u­nication and Information Techn­ology at GHQ, and Lt Gen Shakir Ullah Khan Khattak of the 13th Lancers Armoured Corps as Chairman of HIT Taxila. Lt Gen Tahir Hameed Shah of the Medium Regiment (Artillery) was named Chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Wah.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023

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