PM felicitates new four-star generals

Later, Gen Hayat and Gen Bajwa separately called on Premier Sharif at the Prime Minister House


Sardar Sikander November 27, 2016
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at PM House in Islamabad on Saturday. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday appointed Lt Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

According to a Prime Minister House spokesperson, on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain promoted Lt Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to the rank of general.

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Later, Gen Hayat and Gen Bajwa separately called on Premier Sharif at the Prime Minister House.
Congratulating the two Generals on their promotion, the prime minister said that after assuming responsibilities they would serve the country in an excellent way and rise to the expectations of the nation.

Gen Hayat and Gen Bajwa thanked Premier Sharif and said defence of Pakistan was invincible. The armed forces of Pakistan would not hesitate from any sacrifice for defence of the motherland, they added.

In the appointment of new army chief, Premier Sharif is said to have heeded the advice of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who on Friday told private TV channels that five not four names of three-star generals were under consideration for Gen Raheel’s successor.

Sources in the ruling party said Asif had thrown his weight behind Lt Gen Bajwa during several rounds of consultations held to pick the new army chief. The consultative sessions involved Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.

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Unlike the past, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was not part of the huddles as he is currently recuperating in a London hospital following a surgery. And he missed the last-minute developments leading up to Bajwa’s elevation as army chief.

“Usually, the prime minister gives due importance to Nisar’s advice on security issues,” an insider said, referring to the interior minister’s close equation with the security establishment and his general role as a bridge between civilian and military establishment.

“Consultations, advices background checks of potential contenders and all that — the last few days were very crucial. Nisar’s presence might have made a difference,” he said.

This time Safron Minister Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, who also has a strong say in security matters, especially concerning military establishment, was also conspicuous by his absence from the consultative sessions. Baloch is said to have been instrumental in Gen Raheel’s elevation as army chief back in November 2013.

Sources said Khawaja Asif also managed to prevail this time, primarily because of the ruling circles’ ‘level of comfort’ with the newly appointed army chief.

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Speaking to The Express Tribune, Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said Zubair Mehmood Hayat’s appointment as CJCSC and Qamar Javed Bajwa’s elevation as COAS was made after thoroughly reviewing the matter.

“It’s the prime minister’s prerogative to select a general out of the given lot. He makes his decision after taking his time and has made the right choice,” Haq said. He added that all the candidates that were under consideration were “best of the best and brightest lights in Pakistan Army.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2016.

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