Gen. Bajwa had earlier served as inspector-general of the training and evaluation command and also led the famed 10 Corps.
Rawalpindi: Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert on matters relating to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, on Tuesday took over as the country’s new Army chief, succeeding Gen. Raheel Sharif, and promised to improve the tense situation at the Line of Control soon.
Gen. Sharif handed over the command of world’s sixth- largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Gen. Bajwa at a ceremony at the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif named Gen. Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff on Saturday, elevating him to a four-star general. Gen. Raheel Sharif had declared in January that he would not seek an extension. There was, however, speculation that the PML-N government would give him an extension at the eleventh hour on the grounds that he as vitally needed to lead the war on terror.
After taking charge as the COAS from Gen. Sharif, Gen. Bajwa spoke to reporters. “The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News.
Gen. Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders.
Gen. Bajwa’s appointment comes during rising tensions and heavy exchanges of fire at the LoC. Analysts believe Gen. Bajwa’s remark on the LoC situation improving may be a reconciliatory gesture towards India.
However, Gen. Raheel Sharif was not so conciliatory in his final speech as Army chief, as he cautioned India not to adopt an aggressive line in Kashmir. He 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 a solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, the international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said.
Gen. Bajwa had earlier served as inspector-general of the training and evaluation command and also led the famed 10 Corps, the Army’s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control.
As a major-general, he led the Force Command Northern Areas, and also served in 10 Corps as a lieutenant-colonel. He had 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 the divisional commander.
The new Army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and northern areas. Reports said Gen. Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and low profile influenced the Prime Minister to appoint him to the powerful post of Army chief, superseding four top generals.