Army Chief

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has decided to appoint Lieutenant General Asim Munir as the 17th Army Chief of Pakistan. Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb has confirmed this in a tweet. According to her, the official summary on these appointments has been sent to the President of Pakistan.

By

Cherie Conela

An important meeting of the coalition leaders and the cabinet was held at the Prime Minister’s House under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Sharif regarding the appointment of the highest positions of the Pakistan Army. Reportedly, all political leaders have shown trust in the PMLN Prime Minister and vowed to stand behind the decision.

Army CHief

Lt Gen Asim Munir was commissioned in the Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army through the Officers Training School Program at Mangala, commanding the Northern Areas Force as a Brigadier under the then Commander Ten Corps General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He was appointed DG Military Intelligence in early 2017. During the PTI tenure, he was made the head of ISI in October 2018. However, after a short period of eight months, he was replaced by General Faiz Hameed.

At that time, there were speculations that the reason behind this decision was informing the PM Khan about the alleged involvement in irregularities and malpractices by the first lady Bushra Bibi and her friend Farah Gogi. On the other hand, General Hameed was considered having a soft corner for the PTI regime.

Now, when the appointment of new COAS has been made officially, the debate on possible strategy by Imran Khan-led PTI has once again started in various circles. Analysts are seeing this development as the biggest challenge for the PTI and its ongoing struggle for survival in the political arena. That’s why, PTI activists are now looking towards the President of Pakistan to do something in this regard.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif categorically stated that the advice of the Army Chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee has been sent to President Alvi. He believed that now Alvi’s test is whether he wants to strengthen the institutions or make the decision controversial? He further emphasized that this is a test for President Arif Alvi, will he follow political advice or constitutional advice?

As the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, it is the duty of President Alvi to protect the institution from political influences. However, President Islamabad High Court Bar Association Shoaib Shaheen argued that the President can send back the Prime Minister’s advice on the appointment of the Army Chief under Article 48 of the Constitution. One night before the official announcement, he had expressed his views during the TV talk show Capital Talk on Geo News, stating that: “If the prime minister nominates Lt. Gen. Asim Munir as the new army chief, it will be unconstitutional and illegal.”

Federal Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan maintained that the President can delay the advice, but ultimately he will have to follow the Prime Minister’s advice, as per the Constitution of Pakistan. According to him, the constitution doesn’t allow the President to consult Imran Khan on the appointment of the Army Chief. “Constitutionally, the Army Chief will be the one whose advice the Prime Minister will give and there is no option for the President but to approve it.”

Several political analysts believe that President Alvi can delay approving the Prime Minister’s decision but cannot deny it. According to the constitution, the president is bound to accept the decision of the appointment. The President himself has to decide whether he will repeat the bitter history of the Governor of Punjab.

The major reason for PTI circles to influence President Alvi for delaying is that Asim Munir ‘s retirement date is coming on November 27. However, If the President, despite the fact that the PM has nominated General Asim, decides to return the summary, even then there is a possibility that the Prime Minister can retain him in the job.

Regardless of various kinds of speculations, political analysts are urging that next elections must be fair and transparent in all aspects and free from unconstitutional interference. It has to be kept within the constitutional limits and signal to other institutions to stay within the limits of the constitution. Political parties have criticized the role of the establishment in national politics, but no one has used the highly condemnable words for the army like Imran Khan.

The recent appointment is also a lesson for all political leaders that if they want to move the country forward, they should stop abusing others and discourage blame-game for achieving short-term goals. Similarly, the biggest challenge for the new army chief will be to restore the economy, the day the army becomes truly apolitical, peace will obviously prevail in the country.

The President of Pakistan is a symbol of federation and in such a critical situation, the preference should be to find opportunities for improvement, but unfortunately, indulging in politics may result in further damaging the situation and bringing bad name for the country.

The appointment of the head of the army, in principle, is a general routine matter in other democratic countries of the world, but unfortunately, Imran Khan has made it a matter of ego and tussle in our country. The more alarming news is that President Arif Alvi, rather than fulfilling his constitutional duties, is allegedly taking political influence from the party which had nominated him as the head of state after coming into power. However, it is in the best interest of the country that President Alvi holding the highest office must not think about sabotaging such an important process and play his due role in order to perform constitutional responsibilities in an effective and efficient way.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance

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