Pakistan’s new army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa believes former Indian Army chief Gen Bikram Singh, with whom he served in a UN peacekeeping mission, is a “very professional” commander.
Bajwa’s sons Saad and Ali spoke extensively about their father in an interview with Newsweek Pakistan.
The article referred to Singh’s interview with Hindustan Times, in which he had described Bajwa as an “outstanding and professional solider”. The feeling, apparently, is mutual.
Bajwa, his son Ali said, considers Singh a “very professional and fair commander”.
The article said Bajwa’s views on India “might have also played a part in his appointment to Pakistan’s top military post, with tensions between the neighboring countries currently at a peak and near-daily reports of cross-border shelling”.
Bajwa’s sons said he is a voracious reader with a large personal library of books on various subjects, including India.
His son Saad said, “He also reads extensively about India. In fact, last month on his birthday we gifted him a book each. One was on India, because we knew he would enjoy reading it.”
Bajwa earlier commanded the Rawalpindi-based X Corps, which is responsible for maintaining security along the Line of Control and the international border with India.
Bajwa superseded three generals to become army chief and reports have suggested his expertise on the LoC and knowledge of India played a crucial role in his selection to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif when he retired last month.
Saad, an Islamabad-based barrister, said, “Our father believes in the supremacy of the Constitution. He always says he wants (what) the Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam (Mohammed Ali Jinnah) envisioned. A Pakistan where institutions are more important than individuals.”
Bajwa was reportedly “shaken and visibly upset” after the December 16, 2014 massacre by the Pakistani Taliban in an army-run school in Peshawar. More than 150 people, mostly students, were killed in the attack.
“He kept saying over and over that this has to be the end,” Saad said. “There must be consensus against terrorism. It is the biggest threat to Pakistan’s existence.”
In his free time, Bajwa enjoys playing and watching cricket – his favorite players are West Indies’ Viv Richards and Pakistan’s Javed Miandad – and watching movies. He is also fond of classical music and his sons say they have found him crooning Noor Jehan in the past.