Change of Command

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AT long last, General Asim Munir has taken over as the 17th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) following retirement of his predecessor General Qamar Javed Bajwa on expiry of his extended tenure.

The outgoing COAS handed over the traditional ‘baton of command’ to General Asim Munir at an impressive ceremony held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi symbolizing the seamless change of command.

The appointments of the new COAS and that of General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) were approved by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on November 24 following country-wide debate on the issue for months.

General Sahir Shamshad has already assumed charge of his new assignment and with the change of command ceremony at the GHQ, the process of top level appointments in the defence forces stands completed in a dignified manner.

General Asim Munir brings with him a combination of much-appreciated personal traits and a rich and varied professional knowledge and expertise that augurs well not only for the institution but also for the country.

He assumes command of one of the best armies of the world at a time when the institution has given a public commitment to remain apolitical at all costs and the country is facing numerous challenges in the realm of security and defence.

The menace of terrorism is rearing its head once again in some parts of the country, the enemy is hatching conspiracies to scuttle Pakistan’s march on the road to progress and prosperity and internal stability is threatened by long-running political uncertainty because of self-centred policies and approaches of different players.

While the nation rightly expects the new Army Chief would honour pledges relating to what General Bajwa has termed as ‘political quarantine’, he will have to work hard to help maintain peace and security, which is so crucial for the success of economic policies and fiscal stabilization.

Given his impeccable character and dedication to professional pursuits, he would, by the grace of the Allah Almighty, succeed in coming up to the expectations of the people of Pakistan.

He is Hafiz-e-Quran, holder of the sword of honour, derived knowledge and gained professional expertise from a number of foreign and local institutions and commanded almost all worthwhile disciplines of the Army.

General Munir graduated from Fuji school Japan; Command and Staff College, Quetta; Malaysian Armed Forces College, Kuala Lumpur and National Defence University, Islamabad.

He also has done M Phil in Public Policy and Strategic Security Management from the National Defence University.

The quartermaster general was also posted as a directing staff at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, brigade major of a deployed infantry brigade in Kel, general staff officer, grade-2, CGS secretariat and chief of staff of Mangla corps.

Gen Munir has commanded 23rd Frontier Force Regiment, Infantry Brigade, remained as a force commander in Northern Areas, Gilgit and Corps Commander 30 Corps, Gujranwala.

The new army chief has also served as DG Military Intelligence, DG Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Corps Commander Gujranwala.

There can be no two opinions that our defence forces rank high in professional standards all over the world but it is also a fact that training and modernization are pre-requisites in the fast-changing regional and global scenarios.

Pakistan is a resource starved country and, therefore, cannot afford to match the enemy in numbers but this shortcoming can be compensated with focused plans aimed at equipping the defence forces personnel with technological gadgets, arms and equipment.

As for the issue of terrorism, it is highlighted by repeated threats by the TTP which is trying to dictate its terms to the State.

The country cannot progress in a state of fear and chaos and, therefore, the war on terror will have to be taken to its logical conclusion in the shortest possible time.

As for the outgoing Chief, General Bajwa is being criticized by some circles for his political posturing but it has to be acknowledged that he rendered tremendous services for the cause of the country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rightly observed that the Pakistan Army under the leadership of General Bajwa performed exemplary services in bringing the country out of crises including removal of Pakistan’s name from the grey list of FATF, coronavirus and heavy floods.

He also tried his best to help overcome challenges in the fields of security and economy through his military diplomacy.

While bidding farewell to General Bajwa, we wish General Asim Munir success in his new but daunting role as chief custodian of the security of the country.