Pakistan’s outgoing Chief of Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, is due to retire on November 29, and although it has been reported that he will be granted an extension, it has been confirmed by later by sources he had not asked for.
Bajwa’s replacement is expected to be named soon. The appointment of the army chief holds significant power to influence the country’s politics, especially foreign and defense policies.
The Pakistani government confirmed on Wednesday that it had received a list from the Ministry of Defense on the appointment of the next COAS.
CNN-News18 brings you exclusive details on the men in the running:
Lieutenant General Asim Munir
● Lieutenant-General Asim Munir is due to retire on November 27, two days before the end of General Qamar Bajwa’s mandate.
● Currently Quartermaster General at GHQ, General Asim Munir belongs to the Frontier Force regiment.
● He is known for his expertise in the Afghan wars.
● Served as General Officer Commanding, Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA), when General Qamar Bajwa was Corps Commander, Rawalpindi.
● As head of the army, General Bajwa appointed him Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) and later promoted to DG, ISI (Oct. 2018).
● According to military sources, he was transferred as corps commander, Gujranwala, after only a short stint in the ISI (June 2019), after acting as an internal whistleblower on corruption committed , allegedly by the First Lady, Bushra Bibi, wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza
● Sahir Shamshad Mirza belongs to the Sindh regiment of the Potohar recruiting center (Chakwal).
● He served as Chief of General Staff (CGS) at GHQ from November 2019 to September 2021 and Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) from September 2015 to October 2018. He also commanded divisions at Dera Ismail Khan and Okara in Punjab.
● He was closely involved in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) which brokered intra-Afghan talks involving Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the United States.
● Currently Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi. He was appointed to this position on September 8, 2021.
● He was also a member of the committee led by Sartaj Aziz on reforms for Gilgit-Baltistan.
● Due to his seniority in the Pakistani army, many believe that Lt. Gen. Mirza could take over as COAS or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
● He also joined former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in strategic talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2021.
Lieutenant General Azhar Abbas
● Azhar Abbas belongs to the Baluch regiment.
● Lieutenant General Azhar Abbas is currently Chief of General Staff (CGS) at GHQ.
● He was a staff officer to former army chief General Raheel Sharif, commander of the Rawalpindi corps from November 2013 to November 2016.
● This passage also allowed him to interact with the leaders of the PML-N as well as with the senior leaders of friendly countries.
● He was commander of X Corps from September 2019 to September 2021.
● Lieutenant General Abbas commanded the 12th Infantry Division in Murree and served as a Brigadier in the Operations Directorate, in addition to serving as Director General of the General Staff Headquarters joint.
● Lt Gen Abbas is the most experienced in Indian affairs among the current senior officers.
● It was during his tenure as Commander of X Corps that the Indian and Pakistani armies came to an agreement on abiding by the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control, and that was the work of Lieutenant General Abbas to ensure compliance.
Lieutenant General Nauman Mehmood
● Nauman Mehmood is from the Baluch regiment.
● Lieutenant General Nauman Mehmood Raja has served as the President of the National Defense University (NDU) since November 2021.
● Previous assignments include Infantry Regiment Commander and Corps Chief of Staff.
● He also served as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of an Infantry Division in North Waziristan District, General Manager of Inter-Service Public Relations (Analysis).
● He was appointed to General Headquarters as Inspector General of Communication & Information Technology Branch in Rawalpindi.
● He was also a corps commander in Peshawar. He has experience in conducting counter-insurgency operations.
Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed
● Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, recently transferred from Peshawar as Commander of XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur, is next on the seniority list.
● He was appointed head of the XI Corps in October 2021, following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
● An officer of the Baloch regiment, he was close to General Bajwa and was his staff officer earlier.
● Lieutenant General Hameed also served as DG of Internal Security in the ISI and commanded the 16th Infantry Division at Pannu Aqil in Sindh when he was a Major General.
● Apparently his time in the ISI and his close association with former Prime Minister Imran Khan made him rather controversial.
Lieutenant General Amir
● Mohammad Amir, an artillery officer currently Corps Commander, Gujranwala, is also on the panel.
● General Amir was President Asif Ali Zardari’s military secretary from 2011 to 2013.
● As Major-General, he commanded the 10th Infantry Division stationed in Lahore from 2017 to 2018.
● He also held the position of Director General of Staff Functions in the COAS Secretariat, which gave him considerable experience in both command and command positions.
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