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Pak Army Chief’s Record – And Why It’s So Relevant To India

Asim Munir replaces General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires later this month after a six-year term.

Karachi:

Pakistan has appointed Lieutenant General Asim Munir as head of the country’s nuclear-armed army, the most powerful institution in a country that is rarely far from another crisis.

The appointment could be crucial for the future of Pakistan’s fragile democracy and whether relations with India are allowed to improve.

The role of the army in Pakistan

During the 75 years since the independence and formation of Pakistan from the partition of India, the army has seized power three times and ruled directly over the Islamic Republic for more than three decades, fighting three wars with India.

Even when a civilian government is in power, Pakistani generals retain dominant influence over security and foreign affairs.

Who is Asim Munir

Munir replaces General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires later this month after a six-year term.

Munir served in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and also in Saudi Arabia, a major financier of Pakistan.

He later headed Pakistan’s two most influential intelligence agencies – Military Intelligence (MI) in 2017 and then Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 2018. At the request of then Prime Minister Imran Khan, he was dismissed after just eight months as an ISI officer. chief. . No reason was given for his removal.

Munir is currently the Army’s Quartermaster General, responsible for supplies.

Why it matters globally

The Pakistan army chief will play a key role in managing the risks of conflict with nuclear-armed rival India on the eastern border, while addressing potential instability and friction with Afghanistan on the western border.

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Many world capitals, including Washington and Beijing, have direct ties to the Pakistani military, given the country’s strategic location in an unstable neighborhood and a coastline close to major shipping lanes serving the oil-rich Gulf.

Foreign governments have periodically questioned the safety of a nuclear arsenal, including long-range missiles, in a country so often in need of IMF bailouts and where anti-Western and anti-Indian terrorist groups have proliferated.

And internal security has been an almost constant problem due to uprisings in ethnic Pashtun and Baloch regions.

Despite all the risks, Pakistan and its military have dismissed foreigners’ concerns about the command, control and safety of its nuclear weapons.

Why is this agreement important in your own country?

The military has long been accused of manipulating the democratic process to maintain its dominance. Nineteen of Pakistan’s 30 prime ministers were elected, but none of them completed their five-year term.

The military has recently admitted to meddling in politics in the past and has said it will no longer interfere. Whether the new chief keeps to that commitment could be key to Pakistan’s democratic evolution.

Pakistan is in the midst of a new period of political uncertainty as Khan has led nationwide protests in a bid to force Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to call an early election.

The new army chief could potentially play a key role in lowering the political temperature as Pakistan tries to survive an economic crisis and recover from historic flooding.

Bajwa’s Legacy

Bajwa tried to balance ties with China and the United States. As Islamabad moved closer to Beijing, Bajwa also worked to thaw relations with Washington, with whom he worked closely during the 2021 evacuation of Kabul as Western troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

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Bajwa was also actively interested in economic affairs, and he could also indicate how much of the budget goes to the military.

He made highly publicized visits to Beijing and the Middle East to secure financial aid for Pakistan. He also lobbied Washington to help broker a deal with the International Monetary Fund.

He even summoned Pakistan’s top industrialists to a meeting at the army headquarters to encourage them to pay more taxes.

During his tenure, India and Pakistan fought air skirmishes in 2019, but he has been an open advocate of better ties and avoided escalation as tensions rose, such as when an Indian missile accidentally crashed into Pakistan territory this year.

In early 2021, Bajwa approved a reinstatement of ceasefire agreement with Delhi in Kashmir.

In his own country he was accused of political interference. Politicians said he helped former cricketer Imran Khan become prime minister in 2018. In a reversal earlier this year, Khan accused Bajwa of playing a part in his downfall.

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