Pakistan PM Sharif picks his man, Bajwa is new Army chief

Published Nov 27, 2016, 1:55 am IST
Updated Nov 27, 2016, 7:01 am IST
Two senior-most generals superceded; Zubair Hayat is new chairman joint chief of staff committee.
Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Photo: video grab)
 Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Photo: video grab)

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Lt. General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the new army chief ending weeks of suspense.
He also named Lt. General Zubair Hayat as the new Chairman Joint Chief of Staff committee - although senior to army chief but largely a ceremonial post.

The PM was expected to announce replacements for the top army slots for weeks but he kept on delaying the announcement for reasons best known to him.
Apolitical Gen. Bajwa has extensive experience of handling affairs in Kashmir and the northern areas of the country. As a Major General, he led the Force Command Northern Areas.


He also served in the 10 Corps as Lieutenant Colonel. Despite his extensive involvement with Kashmir and northern areas, he is said to consider extremism a bigger threat for the country than India.

Gen. Bajwa served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief General Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander. His military colleagues say he is not attention-seeking and remains well-connected with his troops.

He will replace the outgoing Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif during a change of guard ceremony on November 29. Both Gen. Bajwa and Gen. Hayat would be promoted to the rank of four-star Generals, and will formally take their posts after the retirement of Gen. Raheel Sharif and Gen. Rashad Mahmood.

Bajwa is currently Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation branch at General Headquarters. He belongs to the Baloch Regiment and is the third army chief from the regiment. He served as Chief of Staff at Corps X in Rawalpindi and has commanded formation division in Northern Areas. He has also commanded a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo.

He served in Corps X as lieutenant colonel, where he was the General Staff Officer. He was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military) in 2011. The others contenders for the top army jobs were Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal Ramday, Multan Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem and Gujranwala Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Ikramul Haq.

The decision was made public after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned from a visit to Turkmenistan. Lt. Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat graduated from Command and Staff College Camberley, UK, and National Defence University, Islamabad.

He served on key posts throughout his career. As a major general, Hayat served as General Officer Commanding Sialkot and led Staff Duties Directorate. He was elevated to Lieutenant General in January 2013 and made corps commander Bahawalpur.

He was later appointed as the Director General (DG) of the Strategic Plans Division in December 2013. The division, formed in 2001, is vital to research for and development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and it works as the secretariat of National Command Authority.

Later, Hayat was appointed as Chief of General Staff (CGS), which many see as the most important position after the army chief. Gen. Hayat hails from a military family. His father retired from Pakistan Army as a major general. One of his brothers, Lt. Gen. Umar Hayat, is serving as chairman of Pakistan Ordinance Factory, Wah Cantonment.