The Change of Command ceremony for chief of army staff took place Tuesday morning at GHQ in Rawalpindi, where General Qamar Javed Bajwa assumed command of Pakistan Army.
General Raheel Sharif was presented a farewell salute after he passed the baton of command to Gen Bajwa. Gen Raheel also addressed the ceremony after reviewing guard of honour.
“I am thankful to Allah who gave me the opportunity to lead the best army in the world,” Gen Raheel said.
“As army chief, I always gave priority to national interest,” he said, adding that “Pakistan changed history by fighting a successful war against terrorism.” Further, he expressed hope that Pakistan Army would continue to live up to the nation’s expectations.
Lauding the efforts of Pakistan’s armed forces, the outgoing COAS said, “Our armed forces set standards of achievement, especially through Operation Zarb-e-Azb.”
Referring to the departure of the first cargo, Gen Raheel stated that the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is proof of peace in the region. “Those who wished to sabotage the CPEC, must now give up and start supporting the project.”
Further, delving into the ongoing violence in India-held Kashmir, he said, “India must not take our patience as our weakness.
A military band kick started the ceremony, where members of cabinet and parliamentarians are also in attendance. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq are also present at the occasion.
Before the ceremony, the outgoing army chief, General Raheel Sharif laid a floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada in GHQ. According to media reports, all educational institutions on Mall Road and surrounding areas have been closed due to security concerns. Mobile phone services also remain suspended.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah arrive at GHQ.
Federal ministers, former services chiefs, senior army officers, and other dignitaries are present at the ceremony. Newly appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Zubair Mahmood Hayat and outgoing CJCSC General Rashad Mahmood are also present at the ceremony, Radio Pakistan reported.
Army chief-designate General Qamar Javed Bajwa will formally take charge today of his new assignment, considered the most powerful and challenging in Pakistan at a time when the country is battling militancy and dealing with an increasingly aggressive India.
The outgoing army chief will hand over the baton to Gen Bajwa at a formal change of command ceremony at the GHQ, completing the transition after months of speculation as to who will be his successor.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday picked Gen Bajwa for the coveted slot while also appointing Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat as CJCSC, who formally took over on Monday at a ceremony held at the Joint Staff Headquarters, Chaklala, in Rawalpindi.
Also on Monday, the outgoing chief had a busy last day in his office. He paid a farewell call on Premier Sharif as well as President Mamnoon Hussain. He also visited the ISI headquarters and later chaired a last corps commanders meeting at the GHQ.
His farewell corps commanders meeting was also attended by the incoming army chief as well as other senior commanders.
The ISPR said that during the meeting, the corps commanders paid rich tributes to Gen Raheel Sharif for his “leadership and professional acumen and lauded his services for the country”.
Gen Raheel congratulated the chief of army staff-designate for his elevation to the rank of Gen and appointment as COAS.
Gen Raheel Sharif said it was a matter of great pride for him to have commanded the most battle hardened army in the world for three years.
He appreciated the corps commanders for their cooperation during his tenure and said the successes achieved during his tenure would not have been possible without contribution by each one of them.
Gen Raheel was the first army chief in last two decades who retired on time and that too with dignity.
In his three-year tenure, he was credited with initiating a decisive push against the militant outfits. The army, under his command, for the first time ventured into the North Waziristan Agency, once considered a hotbed of local and foreign militant groups.
He also ordered an all-out operation against the criminals, including target killers as well as political elements thought to be behind creating unrest in the port city of Karachi.