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 General Bajwa to succeed General Raheel Sharif as the army chief.
The media commented that Prime Minister Sharif wanted to appoint an army chief who should be a military expert as well as a supporter of 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.
Bajwa’s Moderate View of Ties With Govt Helped: Dawn
The report further added:
All the four generals being considered for the post of COAS had passed out from military academy on the same day but undoubtedly General Bajwa has an experience more diversified than all others. General Bajwa’s calibre, credentials, experience and heading the biggest corps also helped him to be appointed the Chief of Army Staff.
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 the military's favour, the report said.
With his elevation as army chief, General Bajwa has now superseded Lieutenant General Syed Wajid Hussain (chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila), Lieutenant General Najibullah Khan (DG, Joint Staff Headquarters), Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed (Corps Commander Multan) and Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Ramday (Corps Commander Bahawalpur).
Dawn also said that Prime Minister Sharif named the new military command, appointing General Bajwa and General 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.
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, General 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, General Yahya Khan, General Aslam Beg and General Kayani rose to that position.
Pak Prime Minister Took the Final Call
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 the army. However, it was the Prime Minister's discretion to appoint anyone among the four candidates.
Prime Minister definitely wanted an army chief who is supportive of the 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 the Pakistan Army.General Qayyum to 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, Qayyum said, if he had played a positive role, it was his duty as they took oath to protect the Constitution of Pakistan.
“No Major Difference Between Credentials of the Four Candidates”
Former Corps 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, the final decision was the Prime Minister's discretion, who saw Bajwa’s 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 the Pakistan Army.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's office, in a press statement on Saturday night, confirmed the two key military appointments.
At the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain approved the promotions of Lt Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Lt General 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.Prime Minister’s Press Release
Bajwa to be More Forceful Against Terrorism?
Bajwa will take charge of the world's sixth-largest army by troop numbers in a formal handover on Tuesday, when General Raheel Sharif formally retires.
Later, the army chief designate called on the Prime Minister and discussed various issues with him.
The seniority list has almost never been strictly followed in appointing army chiefs. The list was followed most closely in 2007, when General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani — the senior- most officer — was appointed army chief after General Pervez Musharraf doffed his uniform.
The succession may not immediately bring about a major change in policies, but it could still have important implications for ties with India and Afghanistan, and domestically for the civil-military equation and the ongoing fight against terrorism.Dawn
The fight against terrorism, it is believed, would remain unaffected. General Bajwa, his colleagues say, is a firm opponent of extremism and terrorism.
According to an insider, he may prove even more forceful in the fight against terrorism than his predecessor, who is credited with launching Operation Zarb-i-Azb, which helped lower the frequency of terrorist attacks.
In addition, the supersession of four generals could force a major reshuffle within the top brass if they decide to step down, the paper added.