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Pakistan Army Chief’s Headaches


Managing senior generals has proven to be quite a headache for General Asim Munir, even as he and his team of loyal henchmen labour hard to dispel the sense of unhappiness among the public about the army's overbearing presence and interference in matters ‘civilian'


After allowing Lieutenant General Ayman Bilal Safdar to stay on for a grace period at Mangla after his resignation was approved by the prime minister, Pakistan's army chief General Syed Asim Munir has had to change his earlier order (April 18) for the posting of the corps commander, I Corps, Mangla.

It seems Adjutant General Lieutenant General Muhd Asim Malik indicated his unwillingness to go there, preferring to be considered for the command of X Corps, Rawalpindi as and when it falls vacant, as his father, Lieutenant General (retd) Ghulam Muhd Malik had served there as corps commander from June 1991 to October 1995.

Lieutenant General Nauman Zakaria, Armoured Corps (11th Cavalry) has now been posted as corps commander, Mangla.

In November 2022 when he was promoted as lieutenant general just as then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was retiring, Lieutenant General Zakaria had been posted as X corps commander, Rawalpindi, but as soon as General Asim Munir was appointed army chief, he changed this order and brought in Lieutenant General Shahid Imtiaz, Azad Regiment, who was from the 22nd officers training scheme (OTS) course, as the X corps commander, Rawalpindi.

Shahid was seen as Asim Munir's ‘trusted' favorite from the OTS stream (Munir hails from the 17th OTS course).

Lieutenant General Zakaria received a somewhat rough end of the stick then, being transferred as chief of logistics staff at General Headquarters (GHQ), where he has been cooling his heels since then.

As a major general, Nauman Zakaria commanded 9 infantry division, Kohat when it was temporarily re-located to Wana, South Waziristan during the ‘Radd ul Fassad' counter terrorism operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in 2018-2019.

Thereafter, he was appointed director general, military operations (DGMO), a post usually earmarked for the most professionally competent and well regarded military officers in the Pakistan army.

He remained DGMO till November 2022 when he picked up his three star rank.

The Mangla change indicates that General Munir is being quite patient and considerate in accomodating irate officers from among his collegiate group of three star generals. Lieutenant General Muhd Asim Malik obviously enjoys a comfort level and rapport with the chief to make such a request.

He is believed to have turned down an offer even earlier, to hold a corps command when IV corps, Lahore fell vacant after the turbulent events of May 09, 2023. If he does get Rawalpindi eventually, it would mean he is indeed very close and well trusted by General Munir.

Lieutenant General Muhd Aqeel, Frontier Force Regiment (FFR), who was only recently promoted (November, 2023) and is currently inspector general, communications and information at GHQ, was in the running for the Mangla slot, being from the army chief's own Piffers (FFR) unit.

He may get a corps command soon as changes are due at the Bahawalpur (XXXI), Multan (II) and Rawalpindi (X) corps.

It is rumoured that General Munir is considering to assign a full-fledged lieutenant general in charge of the army's monitoring and supervision work at the Special Investment Facilitation Council.

Lieutenant General Sarfaraz, air , currently inspector general arms is apparently being considered for this post.

If it happens, this would be the third lieutenant general ‘outsourced' to a quasi-civilian organisation, after Lieutenant General Munir Afsar at the Database and Registration Authority and Lieutenant General Inam Haider Malik, chairman, National Disaster Management Authority.

The vacant slots resulting in the posts of principal staff assignments at GHQ could then be given to officers relieved of corps commands or by new promotions from the major general level.

For the moment though, the earlier announced promotion of Major General Omar Ahmed Bokhari, Baloch regiment, currently vice chief of general staff at GHQ, seems to have been kept in abeyance.

He may be promoted as the dust settles on the Mangla change or when the next set of retirements at the three star level occur in November, 2024. Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, director general, Inter Services Intelligence, (ISI), who is on an extension, may also phase out then.

All said and done, while not affecting the powerful ‘primus inter pares' position of the army chief, managing the senior generals has proven to be quite a headache for General Asim Munir, even as he and his team of loyal henchmen labour hard to dispel the general sense of unhappiness among the common public about the army's overbearing presence and interference in matters ‘civilian', a narrative festered so assiduously by the army's erstwhile protégé, now incarcerated and an increasingly desperate Imran Khan.




The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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