General Qamar Bajwa’s appointment as the new chief of Pakistan Army has surprised many defence experts, especially in India. Reports in Indian media had earlier suggested different names including Bajwa but only as a compromise candidate. One may wonder if Bajwa was given the top Pakistan Army chief post to surprise Indian experts or media?
Speculations apart, appointments for such posts are done after a lot of scrutiny. According to Pakistani media, General Bajwa raced ahead of other names in the eyes of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif because of his “pro-democracy credential” and also his low-profile. Gen Bajwa has superseded four top generals of the Pakistan Army — Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (chairman of HeavyIndustries Taxila), Lt Gen Najibullah Khan (DG Joint Staff Headquarters),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).
Commenting on Gen Bajwa’s appointment, Pakistani newspaper The News said, “A careful review of General Bajwa’s profile clearly reflects that his pro-democracy credentials earned him the post of Chief of Army Staff.” According to The News, PM Sharif wanted to appoint an army chief who should be a military expert as well as backing democracy in the Islamic nation.
A report in the 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.” The daily quoted a former Pakistani commanding officer as saying that Gen Bajwa is a “strong proponent of the army not intruding into civilian space.”
It is too early to speculate how good Gen Bajwa’s appointment would be for Pakistan. The country continues to send terrorists to India with the help of its military and tensions between both the countries have reached new levels. The latest moves of the Indian establishment suggest that business with Pakistan would not be as usual anymore.
However, expecting anything positive from Pakistani army vis-a-vis India can at be a day-dream. Pakistani defence minister Khawaja Asif just proved this yesterday by saying that the country’s military policy would “continue and there will be no immediate change in it.”
(With PTI inputs)