Will Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa be as hos­tile as Ra­heel Sharif to In­dia?

‘The Pak­istan Army re­mains a mo­ti­vated, ex­tremely pro­fes­sional force that vir­tu­ally holds the trou­bled coun­try to­gether’

Fiji Sun - - Comment - RA­JAT PANDIT | TIMES OF IN­DIA „ Ar­ti­cle pub­lished by Times of In­dia Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

NEW DELHI: Pak­istan army’s deep-rooted pro­fes­sional hos­til­ity to­wards In­dia will con­tinue de­spite the change in guard, with Gen­eral Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa’s name be­ing an­nounced to suc­ceed Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif as the next chief.

How­ever, whether it will be as vis­ceral as it was un­der Gen­eral Sharif is some­thing that re­mains to be seen in the back­drop of three days of rel­a­tive calm along the Line of Con­trol af­ter the In­dian Army pounded over 15 Pak­istan army posts on Wed­nes­day to ex­act re­venge for an In­dian sol­dier’s be­head­ing and the two DGMOs talked to each other. “Gen­eral Ba­jwa is well-versed with the com­plex­i­ties, nature of op­er­a­tions and ter­rain along the LoC. He has also han­dled Kash­mir ex­ten­sively dur­ing his ca­reer. But it’s ac­tu­ally too pre­ma­ture to say any­thing. Both Gen­er­als Pervez Mushar­raf and Kayani proved dif­fer­ent from what their ini­tial as­sess­ments were,” said a top Army of­fi­cer. Pak­istan PM Nawaz Sharif, who has now hand­picked six army chiefs dur­ing his dif­fer­ent stints as the coun­try’s leader, of course, se­lected Gen­eral Pervez Mushar­raf in 1998 only to be ousted by him a year later and there­after packed off to Saudi Ara­bia. Nawaz Sharif also did not en­joy a good rap­port with Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif, who he had se­lected in 2013, and there­fore would be ex­tremely glad to see the last of him. Gen­eral Sharif, who had pro­jected him­self as the great saviour of Pak­istan and was widely re­garded as one af­ter he took on home-grown ter­ror­ists on the western front, was per­ceived to be ex­tremely hos­tile to In­dia.

Af­ter all, his un­cle was killed in the 1965 war and brother in the 1971 one with In­dia. For­mer Army chief Gen­eral Bikram Singh, un­der whom Gen­eral Ba­jwa served as a brigade com­man­der in the UN peace-keep­ing op­er­a­tions in Congo in 2007, also says it’s im­por­tant to “wait-and-watch” how Gen Ba­jwa con­ducts him­self. “In the UN op­er­a­tions, Gen­eral Ba­jwa’s per­for­mance was to­tally pro­fes­sional and out­stand­ing. But a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer’s con­duct in the in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment is dif­fer­ent from the way he con­ducts him­self back home. There, he is gov­erned by his coun­try’s na­tional in­ter­ests,” said Gen Singh. “Gen­eral Ba­jwa has com­manded the im­por­tant 10 Corps in Pak­istan. So, he is ac­quainted with his coun­try’s pol­icy to­wards In­dia. I be­lieve there will be no let-up as far as Pak­istan

army’s Kash­mir pol­icy is con­cerned,” he added. Sev­eral in­ter­na­tional South Asia ex­perts echoed sim­i­lar views. Asked about her opin­ion on the new Pak­istan army chief Gen­eral Ba­jwa, Ge­orge­town Univer­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor C Chris­tine Fair tweeted, “Cut from the same cloth. It won’t make a dif­fer­ence.”

The as­sess­ment in In­dia, too, is that Pak­istan army’s long-stand­ing “con­fronta­tion­ist at­ti­tude” to­wards In­dia as well as its pol­icy to covertly con­trol the “ter­ror tap” in J&K is not go­ing to change anytime soon. Pak­istan army, of course, re­mains in­censed over what In­dia de­scribed as “sur­gi­cal strikes” against ter­ror launch pads in Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied-Kash­mir on Septem­ber 29. The force, in con­junc­tion with its in­tel­li­gence arm ISI, has af­ter all been the prime driver be­hind Pak­istan’s Kash­mir pol­icy to “bleed’’ In­dia with a thou­sand cuts for decades.

De­spite its his­tory of in­ter­ven­tions within and ad­ven­tur­ism vis-a-vis In­dia, the Pak­istan army re­mains a mo­ti­vated, ex­tremely pro­fes­sional force that vir­tu­ally holds the trou­bled coun­try to­gether from spi­ral­ing out of con­trol, even though the Sunni-Deobandi rad­i­cal­iza­tion con­tin­ues to make deep in­roads. Given the Pak­istan army-ISI com­bine’s patho­log­i­cal ob­ses­sion with In­dia, the strat­egy to bleed In­dia on its east through its ji­hadi prox­ies will con­tinue un­abated. The In­dian re­sponse, con­se­quently, be­comes im­por­tant rather than who is at the helm in the Pak­istan army.

Gen­eral Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa, Pak­istan new army chief.

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