New army chief brings no change in policy: Asif

Updated November 28, 2016


ISLAMABAD: There will be no immediate shift in Pakistan’s military policy under the new army chief, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said.

Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will replace retiring Army Chief Raheel Sharif when his three-year term ends on Tuesday.

Talking to Geo TV, Khawaja Asif said: “The military policy will continue and there will be no immediate change in it.”

“The legacy of General Raheel Sharif would continue in the light of the examples he set,” he added.

The United States on Sun­day issued a statement, welcoming Gen Bajwa’s appointment and said it wanted to assist Pakistan with its domestic and regional counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts. In a statement, the US embassy in Islamabad also said it wanted to help “Pakistani authorities to honour their pledge to prevent the use of Pakistan’s soil for terrorist attacks against its neighbours”.

One minister while talking to Reuters claimed that Gen Bajwa was chosen because of his low-key app­roach and a belief by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that he would shun the limelight, in contrast to his predecessor, while ceding more policy space to the government.

Gen Bikram Singh, a former head of India’s army who served with Gen Bajwa in the Congo as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force, praised his conduct as a soldier during their time in Africa. “In the international environment, his performance was professional, outstanding,” Gen Singh told India Today TV channel.

But when reporters asked Gen Singh if he expected Gen Bajwa to alter Pakistan’s military policy, he said: “I do not see any change”.

Published in Dawn November 28th, 2016