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Why General Bajwa Can Be Considered An All Powerful Chief of Pakistan Army?

Published Oct 11, 2018
Updated Jul 02, 2020

With Lt General Asim Munir as the DG ISI a favourite and Imran Khan a weak Prime Minister, General Bajwa holds all the cards in Pakistan

The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Pakistan announced the postings of  seven major generals of the Pakistan who had been recently approved in the promotion board chaired by the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

These were as listed on the ISPR web site included Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi Chief of Logistics Staff, GHQ, Lt Gen Asim Munir, DG ISI, Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki, Comd Mangla Corps, Lt Gen Shaheen Mazher, Comd Peshawar Corps, Lt Gen Abdul Aziz, Military Secretary GHQ, Lt Gen Muhammad Adnan, VCGS (B), Lt Gen Waseem Ashraf, IG Arms.

The appointment of Lt General Asim Munir as the DG ISI or the Director General Inter Services Intelligence invited the most attention both in Pakistan and abroad. Asim Munir is from the Frontier Force and has served in key appointments as a Major General to include Force Command Northern Area (FCNA) and the Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) of the Pakistan Army.

He is known to be close to the Army Chief General Bajwa as has possibly served under him directly while commanding the FCNA which falls under the 10 Corps of the Pakistan Army. General Bajwa commanded the 10 Corps from 2013 to 2015. As the DGMI he had direct approach to the Army Chief.

Importantly Munir has been elevated directly to the post of DGISI without having commanded a corps. His predecessor Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar who was said to be the preference of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had commanded the Karachi Corps for two years before moving as ISI Chief. Almost all ISI chiefs have commanded a corps before being appointed as such.

While the role of the ISI is quite different being responsible for external and political intelligence operations (sic) than an active corps commander, experience and seniority is considered a criteria for performing effectively in this key appointment which in some ways is the second most important after the Army Chief in Pakistan.

The accelerated elevation of Munir denotes that he has been General Bajwa’s choice and some who were senior to him could have been disappointed, so how his functional efficiency is impacted remains to be seen?

At the same time General Bajwa may now seem all powerful with a prime minister of choice Mr Imran Khan claimed to have been assisted by the military to come to power and the ISI Chief who is his personal nominee unlike his predecessor Naveed Mukhtar, the Army Chief will now be holding all the cards to dictate the Afghan and India policy as well as political theatre within the country.

General Bajwa who was seen as a weak chief when he was promoted, is now in the league of one of the most powerful chiefs of the Pakistan Army, how he uses this power now will be watched closely both internally as well as regionally.