'Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary decisions': Analysts weigh in on Gen Bajwa's extension

The extension comes at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are high.
Published August 19, 2019

Analysts and journalists on Monday gave a generally positive reaction to the news of a three-year extension in Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure, terming it an "important decision" in view of the regional situation.

The extension was announced through a statement issued by Prime Minister Imran Khan's office, which said the decision had been taken "in view of the regional security environment".

The announcement comes at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are high in the wake of New Delhi's decision to revoke occupied Kashmir's special autonomy, and when talks between the United States and Afghan Taliban on ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan have entered a critical stage.

'Bajwa accepted government's offer'

TV anchorperson Hamid Mir while talking to DawnNewsTV said of the development: "I think the last three words of the three-line notification are very telling. I can only say that Gen Bajwa was not interested in an extension but due to the regional security environment, the prime minister must have asked him to take an extension.

"He is a professional soldier and that is why he has always said that he does not want an extension. But due to the situation right now, the government offered him [an extension] and he accepted the offer."

'Extraordinary situation'

Journalist Iftikhar Sherazi also weighed in on the matter and said: "Prime Minister Imran Khan must have thought that the situation right now demands that the most important member of his team, the army chief, is not changed."

"In an extraordinary situation, extraordinary decisions need to be taken."

'Positive step'

"We are going through a sensitive time and it is imperative that our civilian leadership and military leadership retain the connections that they have made," opined defence analyst Talat Masood.

"India has stepped up its offences. On the other hand, there is a chance of a huge change in Afghanistan and right now it is not clear what kind of situation will develop over there. This is a positive step in light of the regional situation, as there should be continuity [in leadership]."

'A political decision'

Journalist Talat Hussain, however, termed the development as "bad" and "political".

"General Bajwa gets a 3-year extension. So that's what this country’s politics, accountability, foreign policy and defence challenges are all about? An extension? A bad decision. A political decision," he wrote in a tweet.

'Will ensure much-needed continuity'

TV anchorperson Kamran Khan, in a video message on Twitter, hailed the development as "crucial and important".

"It is a very crucial and important decision taken by the prime minister. It will ensure a much-needed continuity, which is very important for Pakistan at the moment, especially in light of the regional situation.

"I have never seen civil and military leadership unite on a platform like this."

'Not unexpected'

In a brief tweet, columnist and journalist Zahid Hussain said that the decision to extend Gen Bajwa's tenure was "not unexpected".