Lt Gen Nadeem Raza
Lt Gen Nadeem Raza

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Thursday named Lt Gen Nadeem Raza as the next Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and separately clarified that the second tenure for Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was a settled matter.

The appointment of Gen Raza would take effect from next Wednesday (Nov 27), when the outgoing CJCSC retires after completing his tenure.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan appoints Lt Gen Nadeem Raza, HI (M) as the CJCSC with effect from 27 Nov 2019,” a brief statement issued by the Prime Minister Office said.

The prime minister later met the chairman-designate in his office in which he congratulated him on his new appointment.

Gen Raza was second in the Army’s seniority list of generals. Therefore, with his promotion and appointment as CJCSC, the senior most three-star officer in service Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar, who was serving as director general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), stands superseded. As per army tradition, the superseded general opts for retirement.

PM office says notification for army chief’s reappointment for another tenure was issued on Aug 19

Gen Raza is from Infantry’s Sindh Regiment. He is currently posted as Chief of General Staff (CGS) — the most prestigious appointment in the military after the army chief being the organisational lead on both intelligence and operations. He has been holding this position since August 2018. The CGS appointment is considered as a springboard for promotion to four-star position. Out of the last 16 officers becoming either COAS or CJCSC, 10 had previously served as chief of general staff.

He has also served as Rawal­pindi Corps Commander.

The new chairman was among the first batch of lieutenant generals promoted by Gen Bajwa in December 2016 at the start of his first tenure. Moreover, as CGS, Gen Raza worked closely with the army chief and it is believed that both enjoy a good working relationship.

The office of CJCSC is technically the senior most position in the hierarchy of the armed forces — as he serves as the principal military adviser to the prime minister and the National Command Authority (NCA). Having a younger officer in a more senior position, therefore, looks a bit anomalous. But, the office of army chief is seen as the most powerful position in the country.

Defence observers believe that the position of COAS would now be relatively stronger with the army chief more senior to CJCSC. The situation is reminiscent of Gen Kayani’s second tenure.

Furthermore, since the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is an inter-services forum, many think the position of the chairman has to be rotated among all the three services, but it has come to be dominated by Army, especially after the establishment of the National Command Authority, because it controls the key areas of nuclear command and strategic assets. CJCSC also works as the deputy chairman of National Command Authority’s development committee.

Bajwa’s second tenure

The PMO statement further clarified that “the notification for reappointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, NI(M) as COAS for another tenure has already been issued on 19 Aug 19”.

The clarification was significant in view of rumours that the second tenure announced by PM Khan for Gen Bajwa in August has not been notified so far. The clarification is, therefore, meant to lay to rest the speculations about the army chief’s second tenure.

Gen Bajwa’s second tenure also commences on Nov 27.

The appointment of Gen Raza would lead to a reshuffle within the Army. Gen Bajwa would soon be announcing a new CGS to replace Gen Raza. Similarly, one of the lieutenant generals could be getting the director general Strategic Plans Division’s position, if Gen Sattar chooses to retire. Some other positions are also likely to be reshuffled.

The army chief would, therefore, in all probability be resetting his team at the start as he begins another term.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019