India watches closely as Pakistan awaits new Army chief

The new chief will also ensure whether Pakistan should tilt towards China or the US…reports Asian Lite News

With General Qamar Javed Bajwa retiring, Pakistan is all set to have a new Army chief later this month.

The development is expected to impact the entire region as the new Pakistani Army chief is likely to influence the tone of his country’s bilateral relations with India and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

The new chief will also ensure whether Pakistan should tilt towards China or the US.

With the Pakistani army having ruled the country for around 36 years out of the 75 years of its existence, the new chief could play a significant role in shaping relations with India.

Mainly, the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan are influenced by the contentious issue of Kashmir.

In early 2021, Bajwa had sanctioned restoration of a ceasefire agreement with India along the LoC.

Therefore, whether there will disturbance at the international border or not, will depend on the approach of the new Army chief.

Also, whether infiltration of terrorists from across the border will rise or not, will also be observed carefully by New Delhi.

Finally, whether bilateral trade between India and Pakistan will go up or down, also remains to be seen.

No more controversy

 The new Pakistan Army chief is now expected to be controversy-free as the PTI seems to have decided not to make the issue of incoming Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) controversial, whereas Nawaz Sharif has too learnt the lesson of compromising seniority for the sake of a “loyal” Army chief, according to a media report.

Sharif and other PMLN leaders have now realised through their own experiences and what history shows that no matter who you select as Army chief, expecting loyalty from him is flawed, The News reported.

It has been admitted now that ignoring seniority for political reasons has hardly worked in the past for any chief executive, including Nawaz Sharif.

“The chief always belongs to the Army,” a PMLN source said, adding that Nawaz Sharif has given his mind to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during their recent meetings in London, where the premier had rushed for some pressing reasons, The News reported.

This time, Shehbaz Sharif will place more emphasis on seniority in the appointment of a new Army chief. Senior officers will have a better chance of getting the top two four-star military positions: Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The process of initiating these appointments will likely start after November 18. Still, even if the government decides to make these appointments in the next few days, the seniority-cumulative fitness rule would not affect the “decision” of the PMLN. Before these appointments are announced, the PMLN will not like to discuss the issue in public, The News reported.

Till a few weeks ago, PTI chief Imran Khan had his reservations about one of the lieutenant generals vying for the top military position. However, not only Imran Khan, but all other PTI leaders have stated that they will support whoever is appointed as Army chief. Khan, for purely political reasons, is now only questioning Nawaz Sharif’s competence in choosing a new Army chief.

This situation is encouraging for the reason that the new Army chief will not be unnecessarily dragged into politics by any side for their political gains.

Regarding the London meetings held between Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, it was decided to ignore political commentary and public discussions on the new Army chief. It was also agreed to avoid those suggesting an extension to the appointment of the incumbent Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has already announced his retirement by the end of this month, The News reported.

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