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,” Pakistani newspaper The News commented, a day after PM Sharif appointed Gen Bajwa to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif .
The media commented that PM 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, 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.”
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With his elevation as army chief, Gen Bajwa has now superseded Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila), Lt Gen Najibullah Khan (DG Joint Staff Headquarters), Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed (Corps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).
The Dawn also said that PM 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.