Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a three-year extension to General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the country’s army chief, in view of the ‘regional security environment’. That the announcement has come more than two months before the date of retirement was presumably meant to put an end to speculation at a time of confrontation on the LoC and the working boundary and the worrisome situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Gen Qamar was set to retire on November 29 on completion of his three-year term but now he would continue to serve as head of the army until November 2022. Speculations were rife with regard to possible extension in Gen Qamar’s tenure for some time but the brewing tensions with India over Kashmir appear to have prompted the government to announce the decision well before his scheduled retirement.
Earlier Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani also served as army chief for six years after his tenure was extended by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government in 2010. Kayani was appointed as army chief by military ruler General Musharraf in 2007 but later prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani extended his term till 2013 in view of the war on terror and the precarious law and order situation the country was facing then.
Pakistan’s COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, known for his pro-democracy approach, has been given an extension of three years amidst regional instability. Prime Minister Imran Khan, otherwise known as someone who stood abasing the extension principle, remarked that the decision has been taken while taking “regional security environment” into consideration. The appointment seemed more amusing because of the social media that spares no one from being exposed to barest skin even if it is as thick as crocodile’s. But Majority of experts and analysts have lauded the decision and praised both PM Khan and General Bajwa for accurately pleading the case of Pakistan before the world.
The regional tension between Pakistan and India, nuclear-armed states, and the constant threat of war gives sufficient justification to the premier and his team to move on with his team even without a slight change. Experts and analysts have lauded the decision and hoped that the current leadership will bring Pakistan out of the existing socio-political and strategic crisis with confidence and grace.
However, so far good news is that both Imran Khan and Army are on the same page and share each others vision. If looked into with reference to context this same page mantra confirms that they have the same sort of relationship that Musharraf had with Shaukat Aziz. In its correct perspective in democracy, there is no such thing as being on the same page time and again orchestrated by Khan Sahib.
How can a subservient institution to the sovereign will of the people demand to be on the same page? The very fact notification of a Grade -22 officer is supposed to be issued by the Ministry of Defence/Establishment Division was done from the Prime Minister House with Prime Minister’s Signatures is a manifestation of his ego that ‘it is I who appoints and disappoints the highest and most powerful officers’.
The decision is political and has nothing to do with the existing political realities. Such groups of opinion makers believe that the Army chief must be changed under any circumstances. The army carries a big responsibility by being on the same page with the incumbent PTI government. Failures on the part of one side is likely to bring the other under focus. It remains to be seen if working together would be in the best interest of the country.