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Pakistan’s Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir has taken charge as the head of the country’s Army. File
| Photo Credit: AP

General Syed Asim Munir, Pakistan’s former spymaster, on Tuesday assumed charge as the country’s new Army chief, replacing General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired after two consecutive three-year terms.

Lt. Gen. Munir assumed charge during an impressive ceremony at the General Headquarters (GHQ), becoming the 17th Chief of the Army Staff.

Also read |Syed Asim Munir | The spymaster-turned-Army chief 

The powerful Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.

There has been extraordinary interest in the appointment of Gen. Bajwa’s successor as many believe ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s long march is linked to the change of command in the Army.

Lt. Gen. Munir was the shortest serving head of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency. He was appointed the ISI head in October 2018 by General Bajwa. But eight months later, he was replaced with Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid on the insistence of Imran Khan.

On Monday, outgoing chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday paid separate farewell visits to President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The prime minister and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had been very critical of General Bajwa.

General Bajwa took over command in 2016 after he was appointed by former premier Nawaz Sharif. His service was extended for another three years by ex-premier Imran Khan in 2019.

Lt. Gen. Munir would have to tackle a host of problems, including the threat of militants. But his main test would be how to remain steadfast on the decision by the army that it will stay away from politics.

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