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Who Will Lead Pakistan’s Military In The Future?

Story Highlights
  • The names of the incoming Army chief are coincidentally from the same batch, yet the lot's seniority is established on a technical basis.
  • The officers' names are Lt. Generals Asim Munir, Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Azhar Abbas, Nauman Mehmood, Faiz Hameed, and Mohammad Amir.

The moment for the present coalition government of Pakistan to make what is probably going to be one of the hardest decisions of its term is getting closer as political and economic issues keep the cabinet busy.

One of the main obstacles for the current administration will be choosing between four candidates who have been suggested by the military establishment to become the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Sources within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have already made suggestions that conversations about the appointment will take place behind closed doors by the end of August, with a final decision perhaps being made by the middle of September 2022.

The president selects chiefs on the prime minister’s suggestion, as stated in Article 243(3) of the Pakistani Constitution. “The appointment of, an above the rank of, lieutenant-general in the army and equivalent ranks in the other Defence Services will be made by the prime minister in consultation with the president,” states Schedule V-A of the Rules of Business, which details the cases to be presented to the prime minister for his approval.

Despite what the laws may say, this is not how things are done in Pakistan on a regular basis. The General Headquarters (GHQ) customarily sends a list of the four to five senior-most lieutenant generals, along with their personal files, to the Ministry of Defence, who then sends it to the Prime Minister’s Office to choose the officer best suited for the position.

Even though the Ministry of Defence has the power to review the recommendations, it typically doesn’t even bother to object to the GHQ’s advice before sending it on to the PM’s office.

Since the Sharif family has never been able to get it right and has already suffered the consequences due to military takeovers, the nomination of the new Army Chief has been nothing short of a nightmare for the PML-N administration.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), will step down in the final week of November. The intended duration of Bajwa’s appointment was three years. Bajwa, however, received an extra three-year term extension in 2019 from the Imran Khan administration, which was in power at the time.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and General Bajwa have categorically denied any claims that he would receive a further extension and announced that Bajwa would be retiring in November.

The names of the incoming Army chief are coincidentally from the same batch, yet the lot’s seniority is established on a technical basis.

The officers’ names are Lt. Generals Asim Munir, Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Azhar Abbas, Nauman Mehmood, Faiz Hameed, and Mohammad Amir.

 

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