Passing of the Baton
With the transfer of the ceremonial baton - a short, thick stick and an otherwise insignificant object - the command of the Pakistan Army has changed. This most powerful stick is now in the hands of Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Apart from the great honour, the baton has brought with it heavy responsibilities and serious challenges for the general. Dealing with a hostile neighbour, callous terrorists, unknown insurgents in Balochistan and a general law and order situation within the country, are indeed daunting tasks. But then Gen Bajwa being a thoroughbred soldier is definitely in a position to meet all the challenges with professional skills. Moreover, Gen (R) Raheel Sharif has left a glorious legacy - a legacy of one of the most popular army chiefs in recent times. His achievements, especially Operation Zarb-e-Azb and the relative peace in Karachi, are great examples. He managed to curb extensive terrorism, insecurity and the people’s general disappointment in politics. He is widely credited with improving security in the country in general.
The feeling of a true soldier while handing over the baton cannot be better defined than what Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf did when he handed over the command to Gen (R) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The transfer of baton ceremony was witnessed so extensively by the nation for the first time on that occasion and the tradition has continued since then.
It is indeed heartening that Gen. Bajwa’s appointment has come at a time when Pakistan is boldly responding to the unprovoked firing from India at the Line of Control (LoC). He is one of those generals who have a very clear understanding of the happenings at the LoC. Therefore, soon after taking over charge, he received a detailed briefing about the prevailing security situation along thd LoC in view of the recent violations and escalation by Indian troops and Pakistan’s response. During the briefing, Gen Bajwa very categorically said “Each violation of any kind must be responded to with full force in the most effective manner.” The Army chief's statement has come at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are running high following an alleged 'surgical strike,' unrest in Kashmir and the Uri army base attack in September. A low-key army leader, who spent quality time in the infantry division and is now commanding one of the world's major armies, he is all set to meet both external and internal challenges with full force. Commenting on the appointment India’s General (R) Bikram Singh said,"Gen Bajwa is well-versed with the complexities, nature of operations and terrain along the LoC. He has also handled Kashmir extensively during his career." So now the Indian leadership is aware of the fact that the LoC will be monitored even more carefully and any adventurism from the Indian side would be crushed with full force.
Though not much is known about the quiet but assertive soldier, according to reports, Gen. Bajwa is a professional soldier who has risen steadily up the ladder, undertaking field and command assignments in regular succession, as would be normal for someone of his seniority. His postings in the Northern Areas have drawn attention in the media and show his familiarity with those places. This would definitely help him in continuing the Zarb-e-Azb effectively till the objective of eliminating the last terrorist is achieved. Gen. Bajwa’s appointment suggests that continuity is the watchword rather than change. As a former commanding officer of the 10 Corps, the Pakistan Army's largest corp., which is responsible for the area along the LoC, the de facto border dividing Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Gen Bajwa is believed to have extensive experience in handling matters relating to the region, specially India and the northern areas. On the external front, the general will have to deal with such matters as the new US President and his policies towards Pakistan, General Raheel Sharif’s commitment to China that the military will ensure a secure environment for CPEC and timely completion of the multibillion-dollar network of roads and rails connecting the Gwadar port with Xinjiang, the problems with Afghanistan and the Indiuan interference in Balochistan.
The nation is confident that it will be in safe hands for they know that the new Army Chief has all the required abilities to equip his team with reliability, fearlessness, discipline, consistency, courage, motivation, skill and preparedness and is diligent in getting tasks completed. The famous quote describes Gen Bajwa well, “It is a proud privilege to be a soldier – a good soldier with discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to comrades and a selfconfidence born of demonstrated ability.”
Syed Jawaid Iqbal