Pakistan on Thursday replaced Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor with a new military spokesperson--Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar. Ghafoor has not been posted as the General General Officer Commanding Okara in Punjab province, bordering India. Maj Gen Iftikhar will be the Director General of the military's media wing - the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). It was reported, that Ghafoor was replaced over his frequent Twitter gaffes and spats, thus instigating the Pakistani Army to replace him.
The announcement came after Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, DawnNewsTV reported, citing sources During the meeting, professional matters relating to the military were discussed, it said Ghafoor was appointed as DG ISPR in December 2016. His three-year tenure ended last month. However, as per reports emerging, it is said that Pakistan Army chief Bajwa took the decision to oust Ghafoor due to his frequent Twitter shananigans, which was affected the reputation of Pakistan military domestically and abroad.
He has been posted as the general officer commanding of the army's 40th Infantry Division Okara in Punjab. He has commanded an artillery brigade at the Line of Control, infantry brigade on the eastern border and a division at Swat, Malakand Ghafoor posted a farewell message on Twitter, thanking the public and the media for their support during his stint as army spokesman.
Alhamdulillah.— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) January 16, 2020
Thanks to everyone I have remained associated with during the tenure. My very special thanks to Media all across. Can’t thank enough fellow Pakistanis for their love and support.
Best wishes to new DG ISPR for his success.#PakArmedForcesZindabad#PakistanZindabad
During his stint as the DG ISPR, Ghafoor was very active on the social media and on several occasions he tweeted controversial posts and fake news. Early this month, Ghafoor praised Bollywood star Deepika Padukone as a "brave person" for standing with the protestors at the JNU, but soon deleted the tweet. Maj Gen Iftikhar was commanding an Armoured Division before being appointed as DG ISPR. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College Quetta, National Defence University Islamabad and Royal Command and Staff College Jordan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, on Tuesday passed three crucial bills to give extension to Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for another three years. Bajwa, a close confidant of Imran Khan, was to retire on November 29 last year at the end of his three-year original term but Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the 59-year-old Army chief another extension of same length citing regional security situation through a notification on August 19.
However, the Supreme Court on November 28 suspended the government order, observing that there is no law to give extension to the Army chief's tenure. But the apex court granted a six-month extension to Gen Bajwa after being assured by the government that Parliament will pass a legislation on the extension/reappointment of an army chief within six months.
(With PTI inputs)