Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif w-1669191074935
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at PM Office in Islamabad on July 1, 2022. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan’s government is all set to appoint a top general to the most powerful office in the country as the current army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire next week.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Office confirmed on Wednesday that it has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence containing the six names for the appointment of the top two military positions - chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chief of staff committee (CJCSC). “The prime minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” the statement said.

General Bajwa, who has been the army chief since 2016 and received an extension in 2019, will retire on November 29.

Process of army chief appointment begins

A special meeting of the federal cabinet has been convened to deliberate on the appointments. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to hold a consultation with the outgoing chief on Thursday on the selection of his successor. The prime minister would then advise President Arif Alvi to appoint the general as the next army chief. The government is expected to complete the process of appointment by end of this week.

In Pakistan, the military chief office is considered the most powerful which sets the tone for the country’s defense strategy and security. Experts say that the appointment would help stabilise the situation in the country facing intense political polarisation and economic crisis.

Top contenders
The six main contenders for the army chief’s post in order of seniority are:
Lt Gen Asim Munir, the army’s quartermaster general
Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the commander of Rawalpindi Corps
Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, the chief of general staff
Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood, president of the National Defense University
Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, former ISI chief and current commander of Bahawalpur Corps
Lt Gen Mohammad Amir, the com¬mander Gujranwala Corps
Lt Gen Asim Munir, the senior-most among the lot, has served as both the DG of Military Intelligence and the ISI chief. He is currently the quartermaster general at the GHQ. Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad, who is currently posted as Commander X Corps (Rawalpindi) is considered the prime candidate for either of the two posts of COAS and CJCSC. Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, who is the chief of general staff, has also commanded the significant X Corps and has experience in both operations and intelligence directorates at GHQ.