November, 29 : General Asim Munir took over as the new chief of army staff (COAS) at a ceremony held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
Outgoing COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa passed the baton of command to Gen Munir, making the latter the country’s 17th army chief.
Gen Munir was selected by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to succeed Gen Bajwa last week, ending days of speculation over the appointment. According to Radio Pakistan, Gen Munir will be the 17th army chief to assume the command of the Pakistan Army.
Prior to the ceremony, both Gen Bajwa and Gen Munir laid a wreath at the Yadgar-i-Shuhada (Monument to Martyrs) in GHQ and offered fateha.
The ceremony, which began shortly after 10am, kicked off with the GHQ military band performing national songs and a medley of folk tunes.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, senior serving and retired officers, diplomats as well as government functionaries were in attendance.
Addressing the ceremony prior to handing over the baton of command to Gen Munir, the outgoing COAS said he was thankful for being given the opportunity to lead the Pakistan Army.
Gen Bajwa congratulated Gen Munir on being appointed his successor and hoped his promotion would be a cause for the progress of the country and the army. He went on to say that his association with Gen Munir goes back 24 years.
“In addition to being a Hafiz-i-Quran, he is a professional, capable and principled officer. I am certain that under his leadership the army will reach new heights of success.”
Gen Bajwa hoped the appointment of Gen Munir as the military chief would prove to be positive for both the country and the army. He said he was handing over the army to an “expert and capable son”.
Reflecting on his military journey, Gen Bajwa said the journey which began several decades ago was now coming to an end.
“I am thankful to God that he gave me the opportunity to work for this great army and gave me the opportunity to lead it,” he said, reiterating that it was a “great honour” for him.
He said that during his six-year tenure, the army had always responded to his call regardless of whether it concerned terrorism in different parts of the country or natural calamities.
“And when I asked them for sweat, they gave me blood.”
Gen Bajwa said that the army’s sacrifices were acknowledged by the country’s friends and foes. “I am proud of my army that despite scarce resources, they defend the country’s boundaries from the ice-capped mountains of Siachen to the deserts of Thar.”
Gen Bajwa also quoted a saying from American military leader Douglas MacArthur, which states: “Old soldiers don’t die, they just fade away.”
“I will also into fade into irrelevance but my spiritual relationship with the army will remain,” he said, ending his speech with prayers for the success of the new army chief and the Pakistan army.