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General Qamar Javed Bajwa takes over as Pakistan’s new army chief, vows to improve LoC tension

The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and northern areas.

By: PTI | Islamabad | Updated: November 29, 2016 6:53 pm
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, General Qamar Javed Bajwa-Pakistan army chief, Pakistan new army chief, India-Pakistan relations, India-Pakistan-Kashmir, Kashmir unrest, Kashmir issue, world news, Indian Express Pakistan new army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (AP Photo)

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif and promised to improve the tense situation at the Line of Control soon. Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of a four-star general. Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead the war on terror. The post of the army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.

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After taking charge as the COAS from Raheel, Bajwa spoke to reporters. “The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News. Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in the keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders.

Bajwa took over the command of the army in garrison city of Rawalpindi, where outgoing military chief Raheel handed over the symbolic baton at an impressive ceremony.

Several high level military and civilian officials attended the ceremony during which national songs and war anthems were played by traditional military bands. His appointment coincides with the rising tensions and heavy exchange of fire at the LoC.

Analysts believe Bajwa’s announcement that the LoC situation would improve might be a reconciliatory gesture towards India. However, Gen Raheel was not so conciliatory in his final speech as the army chief, as he cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in Kashmir.

Raheel, 60, said in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said.

“This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said. He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress.

“It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Gen Raheel said.

As a major general, Bajwa led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel. He also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.

The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and northern areas. According to reports, General Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and his low-profile influenced the Prime Minister to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals.

The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan’s nearly 70-year history since independence from Britain.

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  1. S
    Shafted mohammed
    Nov 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm
    It is for this general to make right decisions. Musharraf did kargil no stan lost all its support from international community and with all the nonsense which Raheel sharif did stan lost all its support from the international community including its OIC supporters and has now sole support of china. China would face indirect international sanctions with heavy terrify on its products and thus would not be economically sustainable. This general has to change the image of stan and if he does not then stan would be doomed economically and would be torn in five pieces.
    1. M
      MEHMOOD H.
      Nov 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm
      NAMASTE SHAFTED. As usual failure to comprehend Gen. Baja in his first statement said the problem facing stan is EXTREMISM. YEH SAB WAQT, WAQT Ki Baat Hai. By the way why did you intervene in Bangladesh?
      1. B
        Nov 29, 2016 at 7:34 pm
        Get your facts straight buddy - Firstly, India never made any promises on plebiscite. Whatever Nehru said were his personal views and he did not sign on any pact as PM agreeing to plebiscite. Secondly, the UN Resolutions on Kashmir became 'null and void" when Bhutto signed the Shimla Agreement which made Kashmir strictly a bilateral issue. Thirdly, JandK legally acceded to India so stan is occupying indian territory of PoK and GB. India will not give up an inch of the territory it possesses.
        1. D
          Nov 29, 2016 at 6:25 pm
          aao huzoor tumko sitaaron mein le chalunlt;br/gt;dil jhoom jaaye aisi bahaaron mein le chalun
          1. G
            Nov 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm
            No surprise if his elevation to stan's highest military post doesn't inherit hate against India and feeling of revenge like three heads for every one soldier. He may be in position advantageous to his country for his engagement with PoK but hence should be prudent to apply his wisdom when it comes to covering up terrorists to enable them enter Indian Territory. He has already got "mi" by terrorists who entered military camp today in Nagrota and killed our 7 army men. Hope he writes positive chapter in Indo-Pak relations and stability in the region.
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