Pakistan names Asim Munir as new chief of powerful army

Pakistan named Lieutenant-General Asim Munir on Thursday as chief of its army, an organisation that plays a hugely influential role in the governance of the nuclear-armed nation, APA reports citing Reuters.

Munir, who has previously headed both of Pakistan’s powerful spy agencies, will replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires later this month after a six-year term, the defence ministry said.

Munir’s appointment coincides with a dispute between the military and former prime minister Imran Khan, who blames the army for playing a part in his ouster earlier this year and who has been leading anti-government protests since then.

“It is based on merit, law and as per the constitution,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told reporters after announcing Munir’s appointment.

The army has historically played a huge role in both domestic and foreign politics, and Munir’s appointment could impact Pakistan’s fragile democracy, its relations with neighbours India and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, as well as its pivot towards China or the United States.

Munir is the 17th chief of the army since Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947, a period that has seen almost twice as many prime ministers in office. He was quartermaster general – in charge of supplies for the entire army – and served in an area disputed with India that borders China, as well as in major financial supporter Saudi Arabia.

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