Need for a review

ISPR’s clarification shows that there must be fresh thinking about selection procedures

The new Army leadership, which took over last year, might have thought that outgoing COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa would trouble them no more, but instead found itself on a damage control exercise over remarks he was supposed to have made to journalists while he was serving. The ISPR, which had to issue a clarification, must be hoping and praying that there were no other interactions which might suddenly spring out of someone’s notebook which would necessitate a clarification being issued. Part of the problem is that General Bajwa has refused to do what his predecessors have done, with the exception of Gen Raheel Sharif and Gen Jehangir Karamat, and keep quiet in retirement, playing golf and grow old with their grandchildren. Instead, he has given interviews (indirectly, because there is a two-year restriction on him).

Perhaps he cannot be blamed. He perhaps cannot wait out that time, because of the charges and countercharges that have been flying around over the rise and fall of Imran Khan. General Bajwa is blamed for both, for Mr Khan’s rise to the Prime Ministership by the present coalition, and for Mr Khan’s fall by himself and the PTI. General Bajwa also has to answer questions about the Indian abolition of Occupied Kashmir’s special status, which occurred on his watch. It was in that context he is said to have remarked that Pakistan lacked fuel for its tanks, the remarks the ISPR has claimed were ‘taken out of context.’

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His institution may be trying to dampen the calls for his court martial (as demanded by one of the offending journalists), but it should engage in some introspection at least. General Bajwa is directly responsible for the Kashmir situation, where Pakistan was unable to stop India changing the status of Kashmir, and he was also responsible for the intervention in politics. While retiring he did say that the military was now neutral, but it will have to do much more to prove that it is no longer involved in an area which is not only prohibited, but which distracts it from its constitutionally defined role. The Army must not just learn to live with General Bajwa’s legacy, but must also examine its much vaunted procedures and filters to work out whether they might be part of the problem rather than the solution.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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