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Pakistan army chief shuffles generals

December 02, 2022 09:02 IST

It could be part of a deliberate strategy to heal divisions within and restore the Pakistan army's image, explains Rana Banerji, who headed the Pakistan desk at RA&W.

IMAGE: General Syed Asim Munir, left, takes over as Pakistan's army chief from General Qamar Javed Bajwa, November 29, 2022,

In his first reshuffle of the lieutenant generals pack, Pakistan's new army chief General Asim Munir has made some significant changes.

Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar, Armoured Corps, who was director-general, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), has been made V corps commander, Karachi, shifting Lieutenant General Mohd Saeed, Sindh Regiment, from there to the crucial chief of general staff (CGS) slot, which now once again goes to a senior incumbent.

The CGS slot fell vacant due to the premature voluntary retirement of Lieutenant General Azhar Abbas, one of General Munir's contenders for COAS, who has made a protest exit.

No lieutenant general has been posted so far in ISPR, indicating a reversal to form, with a relatively junior major general, Ahmed Sharif Chaudhary, from the electrical and mechanical arm being appointed DG, ISPR.

Lieutenant General Nauman Zakariya, only newly promoted and posted as X Corps Commander, Rawalpindi last month, receives a setback and is moved out from there to General Headquarters as chief of logistics staff. He is replaced by another newly promoted officer, Lieutenant General Shahid Imtiaz, Azad Kashmir Regiment, also very well regarded, who is obviously a favorite of the new army chief.

Lieutenant General Saqib Mehmood Malik, Punjab Regiment, who was chief of logistics staff in GHQ goes as the new corps commander of XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur, a post vacated by the prematurely retiring Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed.

Lieutenant General Mohammed Ali, Artillery, commander, Army Strategic Forces Command, is moved to GHQ as quartermaster general while Major General Muhammed Shahbaz Khan, Artillery, not previously promoted but elevated now as lieutenant general, goes to the ASFC charge. He was previously general officer commanding, 10 Division, Lahore, which has always been an aspired for post for major generals on the high road. He is obviously another favorite of General Munir.

These changes bear General Munir's stamp. What is surprising about these changes is the absence of their reporting in the print media, which otherwise would have prominently gone to town.

Apparently, this may be due to a guided directive from the top, to play down their relevance, and deal with the changes as a routine move by the new chief to get his own team into place. It could also be part of a deliberate strategy to heal divisions within and restore the image of the institution.