Pass­ing of the Ba­ton

Southasia - - COMMENT -

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

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