Gen Bajwa got extension as Army Chief till 2022
General Qamar Javed Bajwa will continue as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another three years from the date of completion of his current tenure, says a notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.
The announcement came a fortnight after New Delhi abolished the autonomous status of the Indian-Held Kashmir (IHK). Prime Minister Imran Khan took the decision in view of the current security environment in the region.
Signed by the prime minister, the notification says, “General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure. The decision has been taken in view of the regional security environment”.
General Bajwa was appointed COAS in November 2016 by the then prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The notification has been issued around three months before the expiry of General Bajwa’s tenure as the army chief.
General Bajwa had taken over the command of Pakistan Army from the then Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who currently heads the Islamic countries alliance against terrorism.
Profile: General Qamar Javed Bajwa was commissioned in 16 Baloch Regiment on 24 October 1980. He is a graduate of Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, (Toronto) Canada, Naval Post Graduate University, Monterey (California) USA, and National Defence University, Islamabad.
He has been an instructor at the School of Infantry and Tactics, Quetta, Command and Staff College, Quetta and NDU. He has also been Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade and Chief of Staff of Rawalpindi Corps.
He has commanded 16 Baloch Regiment, an Infantry Brigade, and Infantry Division in Northern Areas (Commander FCNA). General Bajwa has also commanded Pakistani Contingent in Congo. He has commanded Rawalpindi Corps, and his last position prior to appointment as the COAS was Inspector General Training and Evaluation at the GHQ.
Political reaction: Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the decision to appoint General Bajwa as COAS for another three years was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the current situation in Kashmir, the security situation in the region and Pakistan’s ongoing efforts for the success of Afghan peace.
Asked if any improvement was expected in the IHK and Afghanistan following the decision, Qureshi said a clear message was being conveyed to India that there was “continuation and clarity” in the political and military leadership in Pakistan.
“At this stage, we are not completely aware of the entire situation in the Indian Held Kashmir, as there is a curfew in the region. When the curfew is lifted, then we will know what exactly happened there,” said the foreign minister.
He said according to some international media reports, there were some skirmishes in the IHK even on Saturday. Qureshi pointed to irresponsible statements from the Indian defence minister.
“You should not have any doubts about their aims and intentions,” he said. “A very clear message is being conveyed that Pakistan’s political and military leadership is not only ready, but also on one page. This was very important,” he added.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque said Gen Bajwa’s leadership, integrity and patriotism was critical at this crucial juncture when Pakistan was facing a grave crisis in the Indian Held Kashmir.
“The whole nation can feel comfortable that the leadership of our armed forces is in good hands,” he said. The ruling PTI termed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to appoint the Army Chief General Bajwa for another three years very good and timely to do away with uncertainty.
PTI’s Additional Secretary General Dr. Abol Hassan said the decision was taken for the sake of continuity of the system. “You just can’t change horses in midstream; we are already in a state of war and not in a position to change the command,” he emphasised.
Dr. Hassan maintained that the situation, unleashed by India in recent days, underscored that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa should continue in the office. “It was also important to keep the command and control system stable, keeping uncertainty at bay,” he added.
PTI’s Central Information Secretary Ahmad Jawad said the decision was taken to ensure peace and security in the country. He pointed out that there were so many instances of such decisions at the international level.
Ahmed Jawad noted that a naval chief of China continued his service for eleven years from 2006 to 2017 and during this period the Chinese Navy made tremendous progress. Likewise, a Russia naval chief continued in the office and he significantly developed the institution in comparison to the United States.
“We have been in a state of war with India since February 2019 and New Delhi is also hurling threats at us of a nuclear attack. On the other hand, peace process in Afghanistan has entered its final phase and we are so close to completely defeating terrorism in Pakistan,” he contended.
In a careful comment, PML-N it was premature to say whether it was a good or bad decision.Speaking in a television programme PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair, who also served as Sindh governor, said the prime minister’s decision was yet another U-turn, as he was against continuation of the army chief in office for another term.
PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal avoided commenting on the issue and later switched off his cell phone.
Retired Generals: Retired senior military officers have strongly backed the government’s decision of appointing General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of Army Staff for another three years.
Lt. General (R) Ghulam Mustafa, a defence analyst, observed that appointing General Bajwa as COAS for another three years was a right decision as the country was facing aggression and was in a state of war.
Moreover, he said there was also crucial Afghan peace process taking place currently. “It is understood that a new leadership takes time to settle in and understand things,” he added. Gen Mustafa, who also commanded Mangla Corps and raised the Army Strategic Forces Command, said the Indian leadership must also be worried with continuity of command of Pakistan because they wanted to benefit from the situation otherwise.
He said the past experiences regarding change of command in critical situation were not good. In this regard, he recalled the change of command of an infantry division when Major General Akhtar Malik was replaced with then Major General Yahya.
“Our forces might have taken over Akhnor in occupied territory had the GoC of infantry division not been replaced at that crucial time,” he said. Lieutenant General (R) Amjad Shoaib said during a recent informal meeting, General Bajwa told him that he wanted to retire. However, he said later the security environment rapidly changed particularly with reference to Kashmir and Afghan peace process taking place, which demanded continuity of Pakistan Army’s command.
Air Marshal (R) Shahid Latif also observed that the decision had been taken in the national interest saying that in the prevailing regional security continuation of Pakistan Army’s command was a right decision.