Gurugram (Haryana): Lieutenant General Asim Munir has been named as the new Pakistan Army chief to replace incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s information and broadcasting minister announced on Thursday.
The approval to the appointment is now due in the office of President Arif Alvi who will be giving his final nod.
Munir was among those in Pakistan who oversaw the 2019 Pulwama terror attack, according to Tilak Devasher, a member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and who retired as Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat.
“It was under his (Lt Gen Munir’s) watch that the Pulwama attack took place and he was DG of the ISI in November and this happened in February 2019. He also served in the areas in the core that overlooks or deals with Kashmir in India. So, he is very familiar with this area” Devasher said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following the suicide attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives when their convoy was attacked on the Jammu Srinagar highway on February 14, 2019.
It is said that the setback Pakistan suffered due to this attack on Indian soldiers prompted the then Pakistan PM Imran Khan to remove Munir from the post who had just completed just 8 months which is the shortest in the history of Pakistan.
Lt Gen Munir is expected to take over as Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) from 61-year-old Bajwa, who is scheduled to retire on November 29.
Munir will get a 3-year term, which means he is likely to hold the position till at least 2025.
On the impact of General Munir becoming the new army chief of Pakistan, Devasher said, “No army chief of Pakistan has been friendly towards India. So, Asim Munir is not going to break the mould. He will continue to have a hardline stance towards India.”
Devasher said, “If problems in Pakistan escalate and he has the experience. It’s quite likely, India should have to be prepared that he is going to be…and he has this thing on Pulwama. So, we need to be very careful on this particular score.”
India has been closely watching the development as the new Pakistani Army chief is expected to influence the government’s stance on Islamabad-New Delhi relations as well as Pakistan’s policies towards “all-weather ally” China and also the United States.
Pakistan has recently been taken off the watchlist of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The country is also facing an extremely precarious economic situation.
According to experts, Pakistan has always resorted to terrorist attacks against India to keep tensions alive.
“…they cannot afford to do anything against India, given the strong reaction India has shown in the past that if you do anything we will hit you back. So, he (Lt Gen Munir) will have to watch his steps very carefully. But, we will have to be certainly very careful” According to Devasher, who has authored three books on Pakistan.
Lt Gen Munir has served both as head of Military Intelligence, and as the head of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He served in the position of the head of military intelligence for a period of 21 months starting 2017.