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Who Will be Pakistan’s Next Army Chief? Six Names Sent to Shehbaz Sharif’s Office, Final Call by Nov 24

A final decision on who the next Pakistan Army Chief will be is expected on November 24, sources told News18, with the army headquarters sending names of six senior most Lieutenant Generals for consideration to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s office.

Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has confirmed to the media that his ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office received the nomination summary from the army headquarters. The six names on the list are:

Lt. General Asim Munir, Quarter-Master General
Lt. General Sahir Shahmshad Mirza, Corps Commander Rawalpindi
Lt. General Azhar Abbas, Chief of General Staff
Lt. General Numan Mahmood, President National Defence University
Lt. General Faiz Hameed, Corps Commander Bahawalpur.
Lt. General Muhammad Aamer, Corps Commander Gujranwala
Deliberations continue on the issue with Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif chairing key meetings on Tuesday with current army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and D-G ISI. He held another meeting with Khawaja Asif, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Malik Ahmed Khan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

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Sharif also held a separate meeting with ally and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari at the Prime Minister’s House. While Sharif is said to be keen on Lt. General Asim Munir as Pakistan’s next army chief, Zardari is said to be favouring another six-month extension for incumbent Bajwa.

Bajwa’s case, however, suffered a blow this week with a Pakistani website claiming that his family members and relatives became billionaires during his six-year tenure, making assets amounting to Rs 12.7 billion. The report has prompted the Pakistan government to order a probe into the “illegal and unwarranted” leak of their tax records.

The FactFocus website, which describes itself as a “Pakistan-based digital media news organisation working on data-based investigative news stories”, shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021 on its page.

According to the report regarding the alleged tax records of Gen Bajwa’s family, the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to Rs 12.7 billion.

The report, released days ahead of Gen Bajwa’s scheduled retirement later this month, claimed that the assets of Gen Bajwa’s wife, Ayesha Amjad, went from zero in 2016 to Rs 2.2 billion (declared and known) in six years. It stated the amount did not include residential plots, commercial plots and houses given by the Army to her husband.

The military is the most powerful institution in a nation seldom far from its next crisis and the appointment of the next army chief could have a crucial bearing on the future of Pakistan’s fragile democracy, and whether relations with neighbouring India are allowed to improve.

During the 75 years since independence and formation of Pakistan out of the Partition of India, the army has seized power three times and directly ruled the Islamic republic for more than three decades, fighting three wars with India along the way.

Even when a civilian government holds power, Pakistan’s generals retain a dominant influence over security matters and foreign affairs. And the new chief could set the tone for the conduct of relations with India, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and determine whether Pakistan tilts more toward China or the United States.