General Qamar Javed Bajwa (right) handing over command of Pakistan Army to General Asim Munir at a change-of-command ceremony in Rawalpindi. Image Credit: ISPR

Islamabad: General Asim Munir assumed command of the Pakistan Army from the outgoing commander General Bajwa in a change of command ceremony at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

The impressive ceremony brought together senior armed forces officers, both serving and retired, and many distinguished foreign guests and visitors. The new Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, who assumed command on November 27, also attended the ceremony.

The outgoing chief Gen Bajwa passed the baton to his successor, General Syed Asim Munir, who became the 17th army chief of the country. Gen Bajwa also inspected a Guard of Honour at the ceremony.

In his speech, Gen Bajwa congratulated his successor, saying that he had full faith that Gen Munir’s appointment “will prove to be positive for the country and army.”

In addition to “being a Hafiz-e-Quran, he is a professional, competent, and principled officer. I am certain that under his leadership the army will reach new heights of success,” Gen Bajwa said of his successor.

In his farewell speech, Gen Bajwa thanked the Almighty for giving him the opportunity to serve in the army. He said that during his six-year tenure, the army had always responded to his call whether it was terrorism, law and order challenges, Line of Control (LoC) escalation, or natural calamities. Praising the sacrifices of the soldiers, he said: “When I asked them for sweat, they gave me blood.”

He said that he is proud of the army that despite scarce resources, “defend the country’s boundaries from the ice-capped mountains of Siachen to the deserts of Thar.”

Gen Bajwa also quoted a saying from one of America’s famous generals in his farewell speech: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

A day earlier, Gen Bajwa held farewell meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Arif Alvi, in which both leaders praised the outgoing officer’s services for Pakistan.

Gen Asim Munir-1669710325274
General Syed Asim Munir, the country’s 17th army chief

Who is Gen Asim Munir?

General Syed Asim Munir, the country’s 17th army chief, is considered an “outstanding officer” who has the distinct experience of serving as both the chief of Military Intelligence (2017) and the premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in 2019.

Gen Asim Munir until recently served as the quartermaster general at GHQ. He has commanded 23 Frontier Force Regiment, and also served as commander of the Force Command Northern Areas and corps commander of the XXX Corps in Gujranwala. He has also received Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the country’s second-highest award. He is also a Hafiz-e-Quran. He is also the first army chief who was awarded the coveted sword of honour.

He has also commanded Pakistani forces in Saudi Arabia. He has graduated from Fuji school Japan, Command and Staff College, Quetta, and Malaysian Armed Forces College in Kuala Lumpur. He also received a degree in Public Policy and Strategic Security Management from National Defence University in Islamabad.

General Asim Munir hails from Dheri Hassanabad area of Rawalpindi. He joined the Pakistan army via the Officers Training School in Mangla. He was promoted to the rank of three-star general in 2018. His four-year tenure as lieutenant general was set to end on November 27 but he will now serve another three years as the country’s army chief.