The controversial legacy of Pakistan’s outgoing army chief Bajwa

by | Nov 25, 2022 | World

Islamabad, Pakistan – General Qamar Javed Bajwa retires as Pakistan’s army chief during a period of economic instability and political upheaval, with many viewing his tenure as one rife with political meddling and which created deep schisms in the nuclear-armed armed forces.The 62-year-old official was in charge of arguably the country’s most powerful post for six years and steps down on November 29.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appointed Lieutenant General Asim Munir, a former spy chief, as Bajwa’s successor, ending weeks of speculation over his replacement.
The army’s dominance in foreign policy saw Bajwa trying to manage his country’s relationships with rivals China and the United States, as also Afghanistan and India while tackling separatists at home.
Bajwa took charge of the 600,000-strong army for three years in November 2016. He was granted an extension in August 2019 by then-Prime Minister Imran Khan. But the two fell out in 2021 after disagreeing over a key military appointment.
[Alia Chughtai / Al Jazeera]
Pakistan’s most influential figure?
In 2016, Bajwa took over from General Raheel Sharif in a transition that was relatively uneventful considering the outsized role that the military has played in Pakistan’s politics since its independence in 1947, staging three coups.
The military has ruled Pakistan for more than 30 years and continues to dominate and influence domestic politics, foreign affairs and even economic issues.
The role of the army chief is also one of global importance, given the volatility not just in Pakistan, but its immediate neighbours and Bajwa will also be remembered for his part in shaping foreign policy.
He was credited by Khan’s government for reopening the border crossing between India and Pakistan in 2019 to allow the movement of Sikh pilgrims.
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He frequently called for better ties with Pakistan’s nuclear-armed neighbour India, insisting that it was time to “bury the past”, and recognised that the economic potential of South and Central Asia had “forever remai …

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