Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire today, after a six-year tenure as the head of the country’s all-powerful military, which plays a significant role in the country’s governance and foreign policy.
On Tuesday morning, General Asim Munir, who will take over as the nation’s 17th army chief, will be installed as Bajwa’s successor during a ceremony at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Prior to the handover, Bajwa met with President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to bid farewell. Both leaders praised the departing officer’s contributions to Pakistan, particularly in the fields of defence, security, and geoeconomics.
“Under the leadership of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army demonstrated exemplary services in effectively dealing with various challenges, including the country’s exclusion from the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Grey List, COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent flashfloods,” PM Office stated in a statement.
“You had the honor of leading the best army in the world.”
In an interview that was published in an international media outlet on Sunday, Bajwa reaffirmed the army’s resolve to remain apolitical and claimed that a campaign had been started against the armed forces because they refused to get involved in politics, a clear reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former prime minister Imran Khan.
For nearly half of Pakistan’s 75-year history, the army has held power through coups or as an indiscrete political compass.
Munir’s appointment comes at a time when the military is at odds with former premier Khan, who accuses the military of aiding in his overthrow earlier this year and has since been in charge of anti-government demonstrations.