'General' Knowledge: Exclusive Details about The Top Contenders to Become Next Pak Army Chief

Outgoing Pakistan chief of the army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire on November 29, and while there were reports that he will be given an extension, it was later confirmed by sources that he has not sought one.

Bajwa’s replacement is expected to be named soon. The appointment of Army chief holds significant power in influencing the politics of the country, particularly foreign and defence policies.

The Pakistan government on Wednesday confirmed that it had received a list from the ministry of defence on the appointment of the next COAS.

CNN-News18 brings you exclusive details about the men in the running:

Lt. General Asim Munir

● Lt. Gen Asim Munir is slated to retire on November 27, two days before General Qamar Bajwa’s term ends.

● Presently Quartermaster General at GHQ, Gen. Asim Munir belongs to the Frontier Force regiment.

● He is famously known for his expertise in the Afghan wars.

● He has served as General Officer Commanding, Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA), when Gen Qamar Bajwa was Corps Commander, Rawalpindi.

● As Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa brought him in as Director General, Military Intelligence (DGMI) and later on promoted as DG, ISI (Oct. 2018).

● According to military sources, he was shifted as Corps Commander, Gujranwala after only a short stint in ISI, (June, 2019), after he acted as internal whistle-blower about corruption indulged in, allegedly by the First Lady, Bushra Bibi, wife of then PM Imran Khan.

Lt. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza

● Sahir Shamshad Mirza belongs to the Sindh Regiment from the heartland recruiting ground of Potohar (Chakwal).

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● He has served as Chief of General Staff (CGS) at GHQ from November 2019 to September 2021 and Director General Military Operations (DGMO) from September 2015 to October 2018. He has also commanded divisions in Dera Ismail Khan and Okara in Punjab.

● He was closely involved in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that brokered intra-Afghan talks involving Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and the United States.

● Currently, Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi. He was appointed to the post on 8 September 2021.

● He was also a member of the Sartaj Aziz-led committee on reforms for Gilgit-Baltistan.

● Owing to his seniority within the Pakistan Army, many believe Lt Gen. Mirza could take over as either the COAS or the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).

● He also joined former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in strategic talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2021.

Lt. General Azhar Abbas

● Azhar Abbas belongs to the Baloch Regiment.

● Lt General Azhar Abbas is currently serving as Chief of General Staff (CGS) at the GHQ.

● He has served as Staff Officer to former Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, Corps Commander, Rawalpindi from November 2013 to November 2016.

● That stint also enabled him to interact with the PML-N leadership as well as the top leadership of friendly countries.

● He was commander of the X Corps from September 2019 to September 2021.

● Lt Gen. Abbas has commanded the 12 Infantry Division in Murree and served as a brigadier in the Operations Directorate, in addition to a stint as director-general of the Joint Staff Headquarters.

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● Lt Gen Abbas is most experienced in Indian affairs among the current brass.

● It was during his time as commander X Corps that the Indian and Pakistani armies reached an understanding on respecting the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the LoC, and it was Lt Gen Abbas’s job to ensure compliance with it.

Lt. General Nauman Mehmood

● Nauman Mehmood is from the Baloch Regiment.

● Lt General Nauman Mehmood Raja has been serving as president of the National Defence University (NDU) since November 2021.

● His previous assignments include commanding officer of Infantry Regiment and chief of staff of a corps.

● He also served as general officer commanding (GOC) of an Infantry Division in North Waziristan District, director general Inter-Services Public Relations (Analysis).

● He was appointed to the General Headquarters as inspector general for Communication & Information Technology Branch at Rawalpindi.

● He has also served as corps commander, Peshawar. He is experienced in conducting anti-insurgency operations.

Lt. General Faiz Hameed

● Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed, recently shifted from Peshawar as Corps Commander, XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur, is next on the seniority list.

● He was given charge of the XI Corps in October 2021, following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

● A Baloch Regiment Officer, he was close to Gen. Bajwa and served as his staff officer earlier.

● Lt Gen. Hameed has also served as DG of internal security in the ISI and commanded the 16th infantry division in Pannu Aqil in Sindh when he was a major general.

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● Reportedly, his stint in ISI and close association with former PM, Imran Khan, has made him rather controversial.

Lt. General Amir

● Mohammad Amir, an Artillery officer currently Corps Commander, Gujranwala, is also on the panel.

● Gen. Amir served as military secretary to then President Asif Ali Zardari from 2011-13.

● As major-general, he commanded the 10 Infantry Division stationed in Lahore from 2017-18.

● He has also served as director-general Staff Duties at the COAS Secretariat, giving him considerable experience in both GHQ and command positions.

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