Imran meets Bajwa, says army chief’s extension is final | Pakistan Today

Imran meets Bajwa, says army chief’s extension is final

–PM says notification pertaining to army chief’s extension in tenure was issued on Aug 19

–Imran appoints Lt Gen Nadeem as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee w.e.f. Nov 27

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office on Wednesday confirmed the three-year extension given to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently, saying a notification pertaining to the extension in the general’s tenure has already been issued on Aug 19.

The statement came after a meeting between PM Imran and Gen Bajwa amid reports of an alleged rift between the civilian government and the military establishment. This was the second meeting of the two bigwigs in a week.

During this meeting, the civil and military top leaders discussed matters pertaining to national security, said the statement issued by the PM House.

In the earlier meeting, Gen Bajwa met PM Imran in an apparent attempt to allay the latter’s concerns over the recent political developments in the country. The statement issued after the meeting had said that the two sides discussed the prevailing situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and at the western border, and internal security issues were discussed.

The PM’s meeting with the army chief was followed by a meeting with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed on Tuesday.

However, media reports dub these meeting as an attempt to assuage Imran’s concerns by the military. “The government and army are not on the same page due to disagreement on certain points, especially the exit of former PM Nawaz Sharif from the country on health grounds,” reports stated.

Such claims were also made by Najam Sethi, a senior journalist, in his column in The Friday Times, who had questioned the delay in making the notification of the extension public.

“On the one hand, he [Imran] has signed away the extension [of General Bajwa]; on the other, he hasn’t put it in the public domain; on the one hand, he is constantly at pains to insist that the government and Establishment are on the same page; on the other, he is clearly not on the same page as the Establishment in so far as dealing with the political opposition is concerned,” Sethi wrote, questioning the narrative of the civil and military set-up on one page.

These statements made chief military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor swing into action. The ISPR director general refuted claims of an alleged divide between the country’s civilian and military leadership, reiterating that both sides are on the same page.

“This is baseless gossip. There is absolutely nothing of the sort,” said Gen Ghafoor as he dismissed speculations. “The army is supporting a democratically elected government as per the constitution. There will be no let-up in this [support] as it is a must for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.”

Gen Ghafoor also shot down assertions that the prime minister and army chief were not communicating as often as they were in the early days of the government.

Meanwhile, the PM House has also appointed Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, according to the spokesman of the Prime Minister House. According to an official press statement from the PM House, the appointment will take effect from November 27, 2019.

Currently, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat is serving as the CJCSC and is set to retire on November 28, 2019.

Lt Gen Raza, Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military), who had in August last year become the Chief of General Staff, the most prestigious appointment in the military after the army chief, was being seen by defence observers as the front runner for this post, given his profile.

As CGS, Gen Raza worked closely with Gen Bajwa and one of the considerations for the government while making this appointment would have been the working relationship between the two four-star generals over the next three years.

Lt Gen Raza was commissioned in the infantry’s 10 Sindh Regiment in September 1985. He is a graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta and NDU Islamabad. He also attended Inf Coy Command Course in Germany in 1994.

The officer carries with him a varied experience of command, staff and instructional appointments. He has served as the brigade major of an infantry brigade, general staff officer (Grade 1) at the Military Operations Directorate, and chief of staff of a Strike Corps.

On the instructional side, he has been on the faculty of the School of Infantry and Tactics, Command and Staff College Quetta and War College Islamabad and served as the commandant of the Pakistan Military Academy. Lt Gen Raza has commanded an infantry battalion and infantry brigade along the Line of Control, an infantry division in South Waziristan and the 10 Corps (Rawalpindi).

He assumed the position of CGS on September 10, 2018. He is married and has four children.