Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa
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Why Gen. Bajwa was appointed Pak COAS
Pak media commented that Nawaz Sharif wanted to appoint an army chief who should be military expert as well as backing democracy in the Islamic nation
On a personal level, Gen Bajwa is said to be witty, accessible, well-connected with the troops and not fond of the limelight
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) talks with Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's newly designated Army Chief. (Reuters photo)Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) talks with Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan's newly designated Army Chief. (Reuters photo)
ISLAMABAD: General Qamar Bajwa+ 's "pro-democracy credentials" and his low profile influenced Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif+ to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals, Pakistani media and experts commented on Sunday.
"A careful review of General Bajwa's profile clearly reflects that his pro-democracy credentials earned him the post of Chief of Army Staff+ ," leading Pakistani newspaper The News commented, a day after Prime Minister Sharif appointed Gen Bajwa to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif as the army chief.
The media commented that Prime Minister Sharif wanted to appoint an army chief who should be military expert as well as backing democracy in the Islamic nation.
The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan's nearly 70-year history since independence from Britain.
"All the four generals being considered for the post of COAS were passed out from military academy on the same day but undoubtedly General Bajwa has an experience more diversified than all others. General Bajwa's caliber, credentials, experience and holding the biggest core also helped him to be appointed the Chief of Army Staff," the report said.
Another leading daily, Dawn said, "Gen Bajwa's relatively more moderate view of the relationship with the civilian government, it is said, proved to be the decisive factor in Prime Minister Sharif's decision."
One of Gen Bajwa's former commanding officers told the paper that the COAS-designate is a "strong proponent of the army not intruding into civilian space."
Under the watch of the outgoing army chief Sharif, the civil-military balance of power had titled more in military's favour, the report said.
With his elevation as army chief, Gen Bajwa has now superseded Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila), Lt Gen Najibullah Khan (DG Joint Staff Headquarters), Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed (Corps Commander Multan) and Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday (Corps Commander Bahawalpur).
Dawn also said that Prime Minister Sharif named the new military command, appointing Gen Bajwa and Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), respectively, in the hope of stabilising the fragile civil-military balance.
While the office of CJCSC is technically the more senior position -- as he serves as the principal military adviser to the prime minister and the National Command Authority (NCA) -- the office of army chief is the most prized and arguably the most powerful position in the country, the paper said.
Bajwa, an infantry officer, has commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army's largest, which is responsible for guarding the area along the Line of Control (LoC) with India.
On a personal level, Gen Bajwa is said to be witty, accessible, well-connected with the troops and not fond of the limelight.
Bajwa is the fourth officer from the infantry's Baloch Regiment to become the army chief. Before him, Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Kayani rose to that position.
Meanwhile, PML-N Senator, Lt General (Retired) Abdul Qayyum said there was no difference in the credentials of all the four generals who were considered for the top slot in army. However it was prime minister's discretion to appoint anyone among the four candidates.
"Prime Minister definitely wanted an army chief who is supportive of democratic system in the country, who believes in the supremacy of Parliament and who could work for the betterment of the country.
"These were the major points what I believe the prime minister would have taken into consideration before appointing the COAS. I believe General Qamar Bajwa possesses all these elements due to which he has been given the top slot in Pakistan Army," Gen Qayyum told The News.
To a question about General Bajwa's positive role in the 2014 anti-government sit in, he said he was not sure about any such information however if he had played a positive role, it was his duty as they took oath to protect the Constitution of Pakistan.
On Prime Minister Sharif's decision to supersede four generals, Gen Qayyum said it was prime minister's prerogative.
"The premier wanted an all rounder for the top slot in Pakistan Army who could not only run the institution of Pak Army but his relation with the civil government was also important," he said.
Former Corp Commander Karachi Lieutenant General (Retired) Sajjad Ghani said there was no major difference in the credentials of the four candidates for the top slot.
However it was up to the prime minister's discretion who saw his suitability in terms of working relations with the civilian government. Therefore, he said this was not a surprise for those who were aware of the system of Pakistan Army.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's office last night, in a press statement, confirmed the two key military appointments.
"At the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain approved promotions of Lt Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to the rank of Generals.
After promotion, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat has been appointed as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been appointed as Chief of the Army Staff," a press release said.
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif picked Qamar Bajwa as army chief because he's pro democracy, former army officials said.
Bajwa demonstrated this at a 2014 sit-in by former cricketer Inran Khan's party, during which Bajwa cautioned the army to exercise restraint.
A retired Lieutenant General told The News that PM Sharif saw Bajwa's "suitability in terms of working relations with the civilian government."
NEW DELHI: Pakistan's newly appointed army chief Qamar Bajwa was chosen because of the pro-democracy credentials he so ably demonstrated despite being pushed to the limit during a two-month-long sit-in in Islamabad in 2014 by former cricketer Imran Khan and his party, Dunya News and other Pakistani media reported.
Former Pakistan army officials also believe that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif picked Bajwa as the new army chief because he has good pro-democracy attitudes+ , The News International reported.
"Prime Minister definitely wanted an army chief who is supportive of democratic system in the country, who believes in the supremacy of Parliament and who could work for the betterment of the country," said a ruling party senator PML-N Senator, Lieutenant General (Retired) Abdul Qayyum.
"These were the major points what I believe the prime minister would have taken into consideration before appointing the COAS. I believe General Qamar Bajwa possesses all these elements due to which he has been given the top slot in Pakistan Army," added Qayyum.
In fact, Dunya News said that PM Sharif decided to make Bajwa army chief as early as two years ago, during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party's two month-long sit-in Islamabad in 2014. Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan is the founder and chief of PTI.
Bajwa was commander of a unit that was looking after the Islamabad and the region around it during PTI's sit-in, and at the time stood firm against any and every argument in favour of a military intervention, Dunya News's Kamran Khan, a senior political analyst, said.
General Bajwa, Khan said, "had the command of the most sensitive corps of Pakistan during the sit-in and his decision to send troops to secure the Red Zone in Islamabad was a clear demonstration that no action should be allowed to take place that might threaten democracy. "
Bajwa earned distinction amongst other during 2014 Dharna when he stood by democracy, he made a huge difference. PM having a sigh of relief
"It is very critical information that the common people don't generally have. This decision had a huge importance during those days. And that is probably the reason that when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif started to ponder over the four names a few weeks back, he had Qamar Bajwa in his mind", Khan said.
Another retired Lieutenant General Sajjad Ghani told The News that PM Sharif saw Bajwa's "suitability in terms of working relations with the civilian government."
The Nation newspaper also quoted people close to Bajwa as saying that the General has "a strict belief in civilian supremacy and an enlightened, liberal outlook."
"The army general does not have a singular, visceral hatred for India. He believes that apart from eastern neighbour, non-state actors are the biggest threat to the country. These convictions of the army chief-designate must have leant heavily on the mind of PM Sharif as he made the crucial appointment," The Nation wrote.
Pakistan's new army chief: Implications for India
Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's name has been announced to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif as the chief of the Pakistan Army
Bajwa has commanded the 10 Corps in Pak and is acquainted with his country's policy towards India
He is well-versed with the complexities, nature of operations and terrain along the LoC
NEW DELHI: Pakistan army's deep-rooted professional hostility towards India will continue despite the change in guard, with General Qamar Javed Bajwa's name being announced+ to succeed General Raheel Sharif as the next chief.
However, whether it will be as visceral as it was under Gen Sharif is something that remains to be seen in the backdrop of three days of relative calm along the Line of Control after the Indian Army pounded over 15 Pakistan army posts on Wednesday to exact revenge for an Indian soldier's beheading and the two DGMOs talked to each other.
" Gen Bajwa+ is well-versed with the complexities, nature of operations and terrain along the LoC. He has also handled Kashmir extensively during his career. But it's actually too premature to say anything. Both Generals Pervez Musharraf and Kayani proved different from what their initial assessments were," said a top Army officer.
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, who has now handpicked six army chiefs during his different stints as the country's leader, of course, selected Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1998 only to be ousted by him a year later and thereafter packed off to Saudi Arabia. Nawaz Sharif also did not enjoy a good rapport with General Raheel Sharif, who he had selected in 2013, and therefore would be extremely glad to see the last of him.
Gen Sharif+ , who had projected himself as the great savior of Pakistan and was widely regarded as one after he took on home-grown terrorists on the western front, was perceived to be extremely hostile to India. After all, his uncle was killed in the 1965 war and brother in the 1971 one with India.
Former Army chief General Bikram Singh, under whom Gen Bajwa served as a brigade commander in the UN peace-keeping operations in Congo in 2007, also says it's important to "wait-and-watch" how Gen Bajwa conducts himself.
"In the UN operations, Gen Bajwa's performance was totally professional and outstanding. But a military officer's conduct in the international environment is different from the way he conducts himself back home. There, he is governed by his country's national interests," said Gen Singh.
"Gen Bajwa has commanded the important 10 Corps in Pakistan. So, he is acquainted with his country's policy towards India. I believe there will be no let-up as far as Pakistan army's Kashmir policy is concerned," he added.
Several international South Asia experts echoed similar views. Asked about her opinion on the new Pakistan army chief Gen Bajwa, Georgetown University associate professor C Christine Fair tweeted, "Cut from the same cloth. It won't make a difference."
The assessment in India, too, is that Pakistan army's long-standing "confrontationist attitude" towards India as well as its policy to covertly control the "terror tap" in J&K is not going to change anytime soon.
Pakistan army, of course, remains incensed over what India described as "surgical strikes" against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on September 29. The force, in conjunction with its intelligence arm ISI, has after all been the prime driver behind Pakistan's Kashmir policy to "bleed India with a thousand cuts for decades.
Despite its history of interventions within and adventurism vis-a-vis India, the Pakistan army remains a motivated, extremely professional force that virtually holds the troubled country together from spiraling out of control, even though the Sunni-Deobandi radicalization continues to make deep inroads.
Given the Pakistan army-ISI combine's pathological obsession with India, the strategy to bleed India on its east through its jihadi proxies will continue unabated. The Indian response, consequently, becomes important rather than who is at the helm in the Pakistan army.