President Arif Alvi on Thursday approved a summary for the appointment of the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), formally promoting two officers nominated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to the rank of 4-star generals.
Confirming the development, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told journalists in Islamabad that the summary sent to President Alvi had been approved. “The president has signed,” he said, describing it as a “good omen.”
“President Dr. Arif Alvi has promoted Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza HI(M) to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from Nov. 27, 2022. The President promoted Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir HI(M) to the rank of General with immediate effect and appointed him as Chief of Army Staff with effect from Nov. 29, 2022,” read a statement issued by the Presidency.
Following the announcement, both newly appointed officers visited President Alvi at Aiwan-e-Sadr for an introductory meeting. Constitutionally, the president is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Earlier in the day, the ruling coalition had announced that the prime minister had nominated Lt. Gen. Asim Munir and Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad for the posts of the COAS and the CJCSC, respectively, and forwarded his recommendation to the president for final approval.
Gen. Munir, who has also previously served as director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), will take charge from outgoing COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires next week on Nov. 29 after an extended six-year term.
Prior to approving the new COAS and CJCSC, President Alvi traveled to Lahore from Islamabad to “consult” with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. Legally and constitutionally, this meeting had no bearing on the appointment process, as even if Alvi had opted against approving the prime minister’s nominations, he could—at best—have delayed the process by 25 days. At the conclusion of that time period, both Gen. Munir and Gen. Mirza would have assumed their posts without hindrance.
In this scenario, most analysts had agreed that any move by the PTI to delay the process would only serve to damage its own interests and there was nothing to gain by not proceeding speedily.
Still, in a bid to avoid any potential “misadventure” by the president, the ruling coalition had retained Gen. Munir—who was set to retire on Nov. 26—under the Pakistan Army Act, thereby granting him legal cover to remain in contention for the post of COAS. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had also hinted at a ‘Plan B’ if the PTI attempted to cause problems, but had not offered any further details.
Gen. Munir would be the first Army chief who has headed both the Military Intelligence and the ISI. He would also be the first COAS to have been awarded the Sword of Honor.