Pakistan names a new military chief amid bitter political feuding

by | Nov 24, 2022 | Top Stories

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Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir, seen here on Nov. 1, has been appointed to replace Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa as head of Pakistan’s army when Bajwa completes his term on Nov. 29. Munir, Pakistan’s former spy chief, begins his new role amid bitter feuding between Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former premier Imran Khan. Khan has accused Bajwa of playing a role in his ouster, a charge Bajwa has denied.

W.K. Yousufzai/AP

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W.K. Yousufzai/AP

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has named the country’s former spy chief as head of the military, the information minister said Thursday, ending months of speculation about the new appointment. The army has historically wielded huge political influence in Pakistan, ruling it for half of its 75-year history, and also oversees the country’s nuclear program. Like neighboring China and India, Pakistan has nuclear arsenals and a missile system, which is mainly aimed at India. Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir replaces Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who completes his six-year extended term on Nov. 29. Munir begins his new role amid bitter feuding between Sharif and former premier Imran Khan. Khan has publicly accused Bajwa of playing a role in his ouster, a charge the outgoing army chief has denied.

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Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa arrives for a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022. He is retiring early next week.

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Khan wants snap elections and for Sharif to step down. Sharif, who replaced Khan through a no-confidence vote in parliament in April, has rejected the demand, saying the next polls will be held as scheduled in 2023. There was no immediate comment from Khan about Munir, who was director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence when Khan was in office. Khan fired Munir without explanation.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif told reporters that Munir’s nomination as the army chief was “based on merit, law and according to the constitution.” He said he hoped that Alvi would not make the key appointments “controversial” and would endorse Sharif’s decision without any delay. “It will also help our country and the economy to get back on the right track, as right now everything is at a standstill,” he said. Azim Chaudhry, …

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