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June 25, 2019

General Bajwa: The Lord’s star attraction

Top Story

June 25, 2019

LONDON: Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was the star attraction at the Lord’s cricket ground on Sunday when he was treated like a hero in the thrilling face-off

between Pakistan and South Africa.

Sporting a maroon blazer and grey trousers, Gen Bajwa was greeted with patriotic chants and jubilation when he reached the stadium along with Army spokesperson and the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor, to watch Pakistan take on South Africa.

At the gates, the Army chief was greeted by Pakistanis who were overjoyed to see him at the Lord’s. A large number of Pakistanis queuing for entry into the stadium raised

slogans of “Pakistan Army Zindabad” and “General Bajwa Zindabad”.

Gen Bajwa and Maj-Gen Ghafoor enjoyed the match in the stands with the people and mingled with everyone. Seeing the Army chief in a public stand, a crowd of Pakistanis started thronging from other stands, moving towards the East block end where the army chief sat with British Chief of Defence Staff Gen Sir Nick Carter and others.

On security’s advice, consequently, the Army chief, DG ISPR, and the others moved to a private box atop the stadium where he stayed till the 48th over when it became clear that Pakistan had convincingly won the match. He was seen discussing the ups and downs of the match with Gen Carter and Thomas Drew, UK’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, was also sitting in the same box.

Both Gen Bajwa and Maj-Gen Ghafoor stood on the balcony and responded to the cheers and slogans from the crowd who connected with them from across the stadium. Their visuals were shown on TV as well as on the screens installed in the ground and the spectators — singing patriotic songs and raising spirited slogans — were able to spot their location. From the stands below the balcony, spectators kept calling on Maj-Gen Ghafoor to come forward to which he waved in response, thanking them for their support.

Separately, pictures of the Army chief and DG ISPR arriving at the stadium went viral on social media. Hundreds of Pakistanis, even those without tickets, had camped outside the stadium to meet Gen Bajwa and Maj-Gen Ghafoor. Fans were seen camped outside around half a dozen entry points of the vast stadium with selfie sticks and cameras ready to capture the moment with the Army chief.

Fans went into a frenzy when the Army chief and the Army spokesperson left the stadium towards the end of the match, with those camping outside to get a glimpse of Gen Bajwa rushing to him to shake hands and take pictures. People chanted slogans in support of the Pakistan Army and thanked Gen Bajwa for his services.

The Army Chief smiled at the affection they showered, while the DG ISPR expressed gratitude to the Pakistanis for their support. The DG ISPR tweeted: “Humbled, heartfelt thanks to all overseas Pakistanis at London for their expressed and displayed love, respects & affection for Pakistan Armed Forces. You are heroes of Pakistan and our Ambassadors out there. No one can defeat unity of a nation and you showed that. Stay blessed.”

Stopping to make brief comments just before getting into his ride, the Army chief congratulated Pakistani team on the delightful victory. Drew, the British High Commissioner, also applauded Pakistan on their victory over South Africa.

Pakistan defeated South Africa by 49 runs during Sunday’s match, knocking them out of the World Cup 2019. The boys in green secured 308 runs in 50 overs, against losing seven wickets, while Proteas bagged only 259 runs against a loss of nine wickets.

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