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Did Pak Army Chief Sack This General?

Last updated on: April 16, 2024 14:54 IST

Was Lieutenant General Ayman Bilal Safdar removed because he criticised army chief, General Asim Munir, asks Rana Banerji, who headed the Pakistan desk at R&AW, India's external intelligence agency.

IMAGE: Lieutenant General Ayman Bilal Safdar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Global Defense Insight/X

As has been usual of late, a veil of secrecy surrounds the recent, rather abrupt, removal of Lieutenant General Ayman Bilal Safdar, Artillery, as Corps Commander, I Corps, Mangla.

Though there is no official confirmation, reports have it that Lieutenant General Safdar was compulsorily retired and asked to report to General Headquarters (GHQ) on April 4.

He left his command on April 2 without any farewells and reportedly left for Umrah in Saudi Arabia.

No replacement has been announced for this vital offensive command slot of the Pakistan army so far.

Lieutenant General Safdar belongs to the 118 medium artillery regiment. He graduated from the 80th Pakistan Military Academy course.

He was promoted to three star rank in October 2022 along with 11 of his peers, in one of the last reshuffles occurring during the tenure of then army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Lieutenant General Safdar had previously served as director general, perspective planning at GHQ, where he handled Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues.

He served also as inspector general, Frontier Corps (South) Balochistan and in infantry division commands at Kharian and Sialkot (8 Division).

In what seemed professionally a fine military career, touching on key assignments, he did a stint at the National Defence University, Rawalpindi, as chief instructor.

A Rawalpindi based Web site, Global Defence Insights, has claimed Lieutenant General Safdar opted for early retirement.

However, two recalcitrant ex-army officers, Haider Mehdi and Adil Raja, who run the controversial programme @soldierspeaks on YouTube from abroad (USA amd UK), have been quick to allege that Lieutenant General Safdar was removed from command and suffered because he 'voiced serious criticism against' current army chief General Syed Asim Munir's policies and objected to the 'army's involvement in politics' and 'stealing of the 8 th February election mandate'.

Another charge being touted is about alleged extravagant and unauthorised expenditure incurred in construction of a new residential premise for the corps commander during Lieutenant General Safdar's tenure.

A reshuffle of corps commanders has been long overdue and officers of the 80th PMA course are chaffing at the bits for long hibernation in GHQ staff assignments.

The extension in service of Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum as DG, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) remains open-ended, since his retirement last November.

No other retirements of lieutenant generals are due before November 2024.

Delay in filling up the Mangla post would suggest that General Asim Munir has still not been able to fully contain simmering differences among three star generals in the Pakistan army.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/