by: Ch Muhammad Natiq:
General Qamar Javed Bajwa is the outgoing Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, due to retire in 9 days’ time. The four-star general has spent 45 years of his life in Pakistani military service and 6 years as the administrative head of the land component of the Pakistan Armed Forces. General Bajwa studied military tactics and strategy at the Canadian Army Command and Staff College, the United States Naval Postgraduate School as well as the National Defence University, Islamabad. General Bajwa joined the highly-decorated Baloch Regiment in 1980.
As a major, General Bajwa served in the 5th Northern Light Infantry battalion in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. As a Lieutenant Colonel, General Bajwa as served as a Staff Officer in the X Corps, stationed in Rawalpindi. Upon promotion to a star rank, Brigadier Bajwa served as the Chief of Staff (COS) at the X Corps. In 2003, General Bajwa as a Brigadier commanded the Pakistan Armed Forces Africa Command, attached to the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO, in the Congo. After being promoted to a two-star rank in May 2009, Major General Bajwa took over the command of the Force Command Northern Areas division as its General Officer (Commanding), stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. In August 2011, he was invited as an instructor at the School of Infantry and Tactics, Quetta, and later taught staff officer courses at Command and Staff College in Quetta and at the National Defence University, Islamabad. On 14 August 2013, he was promoted to the three-star rank and posted as a field commander (Corps Commander) of the X Corps, in Rawalpindi.
In 2014, the general was appointed as Colonel Commandant of the Baloch Regiment. On 22 September 2015, Lieutenant General Bajwa was posted in the General Headquarters when was appointed as the Inspector-General of the Training and Evaluation (IGT&E). There he was a Principal Staff Officer to the then-Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif. Under the command of General Bajwa, the nationwide counter-terrorism Operations Radd-ul-Fasaad and Khyber-4 were launched in February 2017 and July 2017, respectively. After six years as the commander of Pakistani land forces, the decisions taken by General Bajwa during this time will have a long-lasting impact, not on just the army, but by extension the national security of the country, and indeed the country as a whole.
During General Bajwa’s tenure, the defence budget of the military did not increase, rather was reduced in GDP terms during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 100 billion rupees given up by the army in that year to support the pandemic response. The Pakistan Army also contributed 28 billion in the fiscal year 2020/21 as direct taxes to the government exchequer. During General Bajwa’s tenure, the Fauji Foundation and the Army Welfare Trust spending towards their incomes onwards of martyrs, war-wounded troops, disabled soldiers and retired military personnel increased to a massive 73%.
In 2021, the contributions of the Fauji Foundation to various welfare activities reached nearly a billion rupees. Over General Bajwa’s tenure, the Fauji Foundation paid over a trillion rupees to the government in taxes and levies. In 2019, General Bajwa handled a major kinetic escalation in hostilities with India and in 2021, the successful evacuation of foreign nationals from Afghanistan, as well as increasing terrorism support from India, Afghanistan & Iran. General Bajwa also presided over the complete fencing of Pakistan’s western land border, with Afghanistan and Iran.
General Bajwa will retire in 9 days as head of the Pakistani land forces. General Bajwa has had an excellent and exemplary military career of over 44 years and in his term as COAS has handled numerous shifting geopolitical realities and tensions and guided the Pakistani military through numerous tactical and strategic challenges with superb strategy. Now, as the Prime Minister’s office begins the procedure for a new leader for the Pakistani army, the military enters a new era.
At the end of his tenure, prevailing sociopolitical conditions and tensions pressed certain large sections of Pakistani society to direct unnecessarily harsh criticism at the military leadership and General Bajwa in particular, but the general pressed on with his decision not to interfere in political affairs and to keep the military as apolitical as possible. Alhumdulillah these tensions are now at an end. General Bajwa during his tenure presided over the culmination of the highly-successful anti-insurgency operation, Zar-e-Azb and was the mastermind behind the nationwide operation, Radd-ul-Fasaad, instrumental in Pakistan’s anti-terror success story. General Bajwa also presided over the state management of Pakistan’s FATF greylist response and the nation-level COVID-19 coordination campaign.
We especially recognise and appreciate General Bajwa’s full-fledged support of the modernisation of the Pakistan Armed Forces’ conventional warfighting machinery, personnel and tactics. Alhumdulillah due to these policies we are stronger militarily today than ever before.