Friday February 23, 2024

Speculations end

November 11, 2022

ISLAMABAD: As Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has started farewell visits of different formations, the speculations making rounds about efforts of granting him an extension in the service have been put to an end. This is also expected to decrease political uncertainty, which was likely to grow in the event of such a decision.

There were reports in circulation that common friends of the government and the army chief were desirous of an extension to the latter but the proposal didn’t have a strong backing from either side. A source close to the army chief strongly denied the impression that he was interested in continuity of his service.

Instead, the source said, Gen Bajwa started farewell visits right from November 1, meaning thereby he didn’t have any plan to get an extension. He went to Peshawar Corps late Wednesday, which followed a visit of Sialkot and Mangla garrisons on Thursday, according to an ISPR press release.

The COAS met officers and men at both locations and addressed troops. He appreciated the formations for their excellent performance during various operations, training and natural calamities, said the official handout.

Gen Bajwa has reiterated his stance of not taking an extension many a time, mostly in background interactions with journalists and political leaders. In a recent meeting with senior journalists in the National Defence University, he said he was all set to retire at the given date, November 29. He didn’t have a different view in the meetings he held with other visitors. To one of them, he rather regretted his decision of accepting the previous extension granted to him by Imran Khan as the prime minister in 2019.

Khan went on offering him another extension in February this year shortly before the move of no-confidence initiated by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of anti-PTI parties, which toppled his government. However, Gen Bajwa refused to accept this offer, a revelation made by ISI DG Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum in his presser last month. The veracity of information was not even denied by Khan.

It has further been confirmed that Gen Bajwa conveyed his reluctance to continue even to the leaders of brotherly countries notwithstanding the fact that they could have been rather more influential in lobbying for his extension. During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, a source told The News, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif came to know about this as the conversation turned to the change in command of Pakistan Army.

Notwithstanding his clarity on this matter and candid refusal to extension at a number of occasions, recent reports suggested that some common friends floated this proposal of an extension during communication with PMLN supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. It remained unexplored as to why they did that and on whose behest.

Gen Bajwa was promoted to the rank of army chief on Nov 20, 2016, by Nawaz Sharif, the-then prime minister. An extension was granted to him by Imran Khan, the-then prime minister, three years later. Five prime ministers changed during that course if caretaker premier former chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk is also taken into count.