Extension to Gen. Bajwa, more about tinkering with seniority, rather than Kashmir
New Delhi, Aug 22: Pakistan recently extended the term of Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The move came a few days after India decided to scrap Article 370.
The Pakistan government said that the term was being extended in view of the "regional security environment." General Bajwa, 58, who was appointed as the chief of Army Staff by former jailed prime minister Nawaz Sharif in November 2016, was to retire in November.
"General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure," read the brief notification issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
In Pakistan, the appointment of the Army chief is the prerogative of the Prime Minister and his government. The practice of the senior most being made the chief is not followed.
Bajwa's extension comes amidst worsening ties between India and Pakistan following India's decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370. However observers say that the move has got nothing to do with Kashmir, but to alter the seniority in the Pakistan Army. By the time, General Bajwa retires in 2022, Lt Gen Asim Muneer would be the senior most and would be in contention to take over as the chief.
General Bajwa and Lt. General Hameed are said to be close to each other. Moreover, Muneer is close to the Tehreek-e-Insaf and had played a vital role in helping the party lead the protests, which weakened the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.
If one looks at the order, General Bajwa was accorded the extension, when he still has three months to retire. He took charge on November 29 2016 and thanks to the extension, he will retire in 2022. By the time, he steps down, most of the top commanders in the army would have retired and this would pave the way for Lt. Gen. Muneer making it to the top. If appointed, Muneer would also become the first ISI chief in the history of Pakistan to hold the top post in the Pakistan Army.
This is the second time in the past decade that a Pakistan Army chief has been given an extension.
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who took over as the chief in 2007 was given an extension in 2010.