ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday put to rest a media guessing game regarding an extension in the tenure of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa while appointing Lieutenant General Nadeem Raza as chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Lt Gen Nadeem Raza, who is serving as the Chief of General Staff at the General Headquarters, will assume his new assignment on November 27, 2019, when the incumbent CJCSC Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat will retire.
It added that the notification for the reappointment of General Qamar as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another tenure had already been issued on August 19, 2019. Gen Qamar was set to retire on November 29 on completion of his three-year term. However, after the extension he would serve as army chief until November 2022.
The prime minister had announced the reappointment of Gen Qamar in August, citing regional security environment. However, in recent weeks there had been speculations in the media with some questioning as to whether a formal notification of extension in tenure had been issued.
The rumours mills were set off by a host of political developments, including the recent sit-in by the JUI-F as well as unprecedented criticism of the government by its own allies.
Last week, when the army chief met the prime minister after a long gap, social media was abuzz with all kinds of theories. Questions were also raised if the “same page” mantra was fast becoming a myth.
Against this backdrop, the formal announcement of the appointment of a new CJCSC was eagerly awaited as it could clarify if the army chief was getting an extension. And that exactly happened on Thursday.
The development capped a week when the army chief met with the prime minister twice and in between these meetings, ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed also called on Imran Khan.
Observers believe the latest announcement suggests that the civil and military leadership is on the same page, contrary to all speculations in the media.
Lt Gen Nadeem Raza was appointed as the CJCSC, a key military appointment, which was due as the incumbent four-star general Zubair Mahmood Hayat is set to retire next week.
For the post of the CJCSC, there were three contenders, including Lt General Nadeem Raza, Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar, the head of Strategic Plans Division (SPD), and Lt Gen Hamyun Aziz, the Karachi Corps Commander.
Lt Gen Nadeem eventually was picked for the slot, which in theory is the highest military position since the CJCSC is technically head of the three armed forces.
However, unlike many other countries, in Pakistan the army chief is the most powerful while the CJCSC acts for promoting better coordination among the three forces. The CJCSC also advises the government on the issues of national security and defence.
On a couple of occasions in the past, the CJCSC was also picked from the navy and the air force but that practice has been discontinued long ago.
The new CJCSC has an illustrious army career and served on key positions, making him the obvious choice for the top slot, said the observers.
Lt Gen Nadeem was corps commander Rawalpindi before being appointed as the Chief of General Staff at the GHQ, considered the most important position after the army chief, in August last year.
As CGS, who heads both intelligence and operational wings of the army, he worked closely with the army chief. He was commissioned in 1985 and is from infantry’s 10 Sindh Regiment. He is a graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta and the National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad.