Asim Munir: The tough guy who became Pakistani army chief – Times of India

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Sunil Sharan is the author of three books: (i) Lockdown: India Under Siege from Corona (RosettaBooks), (ii) Modi 2.0: Beyond the Ordinary (Bloomsbury), and (iii) How I Came to … MORE
It was November 23, 2022. Pakistan seemed nowhere near naming a new army chief. The incumbent, Qamar Bajwa, wanted an extension and was not forwarding the file of shortlisted candidates to the ministry of defence.
Pakistan’s political boss, Nawaz Sharif, had made up his mind. He wanted Asim Munir as chief. The ministry of defence wrote a letter to Bajwa requesting the shortlist. Reluctantly, Bajwa complied.
Bajwa was retiring on November 29, 2022. Munir on November 27, 2022. But Nawaz didn’t bother that Munir would be retired by November 29. On November 24, he appointed Munir as army chief.
He was only the third Shia to head the Pakistani army, a predominantly Sunni army. He also graduated from the Officer’s Training School (OTS), which is considered by some to be less prestigious than the famed military academy in Kakul. Munir therefore had points to prove.
Munir made the obligatory trip to the line of control with India. Therein he shouted, we will enter your houses, India, and beat you up. Not a very pleasant way to kick off relations with the eternal enemy. Bajwa had done his best to mend fences with India.
From then on, Munir became invisible. Imran Khan wanted to talk to him, but he spurned Imran. Imran had fired Munir from the post of Director-General InterSevices Intelligence. That was surely one of the reasons why Nawaz picked Munir.
Munir seemed to be supporting Nawaz’s government, but the government seemed paralyzed. The prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif (Nawaz’s younger brother and a puppet of his), had done the rounds of friendly countries with a begging bowl, exhausting himself as well as them.
Munir took up the task in earnest. He went to the UK, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China hoping that these countries would take the real boss of Pakistan more seriously rather than some puppet prime minister. Munir came back mostly empty-handed.
As I said, as a Shia and an OTS graduate, Munir had points to prove. He first instructed his foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto, to go at Modi with hammer and tongs. Munir certainly wasn’t looking for peace with India.
Bhutto was calling on radical elements to do in PM Modi. All this was said and done at the most prestigious forum of all, the UN, for perfect amplification. Even the normally voluble Indian foreign minister, S Jaishankar, who was present on the occasion, was taken aback.
Still, India had SCO and G20 in 2023 and wanted to put its best foot forward. It didn’t want to wrangle itself with hooligans. India was holding one of its G20 meetings, that on tourism, in J&K. What more picturesque locale could one ask for for such a meeting. Pakistan objected, vociferously. India didn’t give a darn.
After five months in office, Munir finally spoke, but through his Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Ahmed Chaudhry. Chaudhry repeated what Munir had said before, that Pakistan will enter Indian homes and beat their denizens. There was no way Munir would not have approved such a speech.
Munir should realize that in Indian homes reside civilians, including women and children. These are off-limits in any war. Sure the Muslim hordes who invaded India, nothing was off-limits for them. Munir considers himself a descendant of such invaders, that’s why he speaks thus.
A couple of days later, Munir gave a speech in which he said that he wanted friendly relations with all his neighbours. But all his actions have proven contrary so far.
Bajwa was man enough to fess up that the Pakistani military was no match for India’s. He instigated peace along the line of control. He wanted to start trade with India, while putting Kashmir into cold storage.
Bajwa was the boss of a still-functioning country. Munir is the boss of a paralyzed country. Yet he acts as if he is some kind of don, able to scare India. Expect all the gains made during Bajwa’s tenure to be unraveled by Munir. Hatred for India runs deep in his veins. There will be no peace with Pakistan with Munir in charge.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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