Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan here at PM House on Monday and discussed various issues of mutual concern and interest. They also reviewed the various measures taken by cricketer turned politician and his new government.
According to informed sources, the recent reshuffling in Pak Army was also viewed and Gen Bajwa reportedly explained the reasons of changes of some corps commanders which were necessary for the smooth administration.
A brief communiqué issued by the PM’s Office after meeting between the two leaders said;
“During the meeting, both discussed security situation and expressed resolve to bring enduring peace and stability to the country while also continuing efforts for the regional peace,”
It was first formal interaction between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the army chief since latter was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and held meetings with Saudi leadership.
The sources said that during the meeting, General Bajwa congratulated Imran Khan on assuming the office of the prime minister of Pakistan. The army chief took the prime minister into confidence over his meeting with the Saudi crown prince last week during his stay in Mina. The army chief also apprised the prime minister about internal and external security challenges being faced by the country at present, particularly growing threat from the western borders.
In a major reshuffle in Pakistan Army hierarchy on Friday, 24th August, Lt Gen Nadeem Raza was appointed as Chief of General Staff (CGS). He had been promoted to the rank of Lt Gen from Maj Gen in Dec 2016 when he was serving the army as commandant Pakistan Military Academy.
The CGS is assigned the operational and intelligence matters at the General Headquarters with directorates of Military Operations and Military Intelligence falling under his purview.
- Gen Nadeem Raza replaced Lt.General Bilal Akbar who has been appointed as Commander 10 Corps (Rawalpindi).
- Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza has been appointed IGC&IT (Inspector General Communication and IT)
- Gen Humayun Aziz Commander 5 Corps (Karachi)
- Lt Gen Muhammad Naeem Ashraf Commander 2 Corps (Multan)
- Gen Abdullah Dogar as Chiarman HIT (Heavy Industries Taxila)
Significance of reshuffling
According to media sources, the recent high-level reshuffling in Pakistan Army’s high command holds significance in view of the regional security scenario, particularly the emerging security threats on western borders.
The appointment of Lt.Gen Nadeem Raza as the Chief of the General Staff (previously held by Lt. Gen Bilal Akbar) is a major decision aimed at dealing with cross-border attacks with an iron hand. Lt.Gen Raza, the senior most three-star general with extensive combat operations experience, will now be in a lead position to prepare the strategy to counter these attacks by militants.
Lt. Gen Akbar had previously served as the Sindh Rangers director general, a role limited to combating crimes and terrorism in Karachi. It seems that keeping in view the major security-related incidents in the country, the high command of the military has decided to crush threats along the western borders with full force by placing the most experienced person as the CGS.
As the commander of the 10 corps, Lt. Gen Raza has effectively handled the security situation along with Line of Control and Siachin in the last one-and-a-half year.
Pakistani intelligence agencies have clear evidence that over the past several months there have been a number of attacks, at the border and inside the country, which were planned and coordinated from across the border with Afghanistan by ISIS and Taliban.
Investigations carried out by Pakistani military agencies have clearly indicated that most of the attacks in the past two months originated in Afghan areas bordering Pakistan, where top militant commanders of the two militias are based.
Information was shared by Islamabad at the highest level with Kabul, but there has been no action by the Afghan military against safe havens on the Afghan territory.
It is important to emphasise that in spite of the recent reshuffling, the core team of Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa has not been changed. The team stays the same, with some new responsibilities assigned to it.
The change of the Multan and Karachi corps commanders should be viewed in similar light. Karachi, being the business hub of the country, has been under massive threat, as militants set up base there to carry out subversive attacks. The new corps commander will provide major support to the Rangers in rooting out sleepers’ cell of terrorists, in addition to dealing with any threats from the eastern border.
Multan is the hub of southern Punjab and possible capital of a future south Punjab province, which will serve as a key node in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well. This explains why a more experienced three-star general has been posted there.
Under the new strategy based on solid intelligence reports, the Airforce, in close collaboration with Army will remain ready to carry out strikes along the Pak-Afghan border to counter militants’ movement.
Another reason for the reshuffle is to give an opportunity to three-star officers to head the corps so that next year in November there may be a number of options before Prime Minister Imran Khan to appoint the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Army Staff.
There are also indications of major reshuffles in the intelligence set-up at operational level to effectively deal with the rising cross-border terrorist attacks.
Army top brass believes that they are in a comfortable position to crush any Indian misadventure along LOC, but security situation along the western border is complex as a number of militant outfits are based in Afghanistan. The top brass is also concerned about reports that the United States has outsourced counter insurgency operations in Afghanistan to Blackwaters, a private security firm which has already established its network along the Pak-Afghanistan border. The firm is expected to enjoy full operational power, even US airforce jets will operate under its command to hit militants hideouts.