Fri, 03 Feb 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], November 29 (ANI): Former Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in 2016 but his tenure as army chief witnessed political instability, economic crisis and a 'dramatic decline' in the army's reputation in Pakistan, South Asia Press reported.

General Bajwa remained in Pakistan's 'most powerful post' for six years and retired on November 29. Notably, the Pakistan government has appointed former ISI chief Lieutenant General Asim Munir as Bajwa's successor.

General Bajwa is the person who institutionalized the present model of governance in Pakistan - a "hybrid regime." The South Asia Press report has said that the "hybrid regime" means that the army remains in control of the nation behind shadows.

The military helps in keeping the person of their choice as Prime Minister. Bajwa's first experiment failed with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan who turned against the army after his ouster from the post. Seeing Pakistan's economy and the political unrest in Pakistan, the second experiment has not yet shown results.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and General Bajwa had a fallout after they disagreed over the head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). As per the South Asia Press report, Khan wanted his recommendation to continue as the ISI chief, however, Bajwa was against the idea. Subsequently, Imran Khan was ousted from power after he lost a no-confidence vote.

The report said that the differences between Khan and Bajwa and the PTI chief's removal as PM resulted in one of the most vocal campaigns against the Pakistani military. The campaign against the Pakistani military has affected the army's reputation in Pakistan. In his farewell address, General Bajwa accepted that the military has been interfering in political issues.

"In my opinion, the reason for this is the constant meddling by the army in politics for the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional. That is why, since February last year, the military has decided they will not interfere in any political matters," South Asia Press quoted General Qamar Bajwa as saying in the farewell speech. The report said that Bajwa's legacy will include "internal rifts" within the Pakistan army.

Maria Rashid, the author of a book on Pakistan's military, Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army, in an interview to Al Jazeera, said, "General Bajwa miscalculated and underestimated the cracks within his own establishment. He acted too late and also perhaps does not seem to have the stomach to 'quash' the rebellion within," as per the report.

Bajwa's tenure witnessed the crackdown against media freedoms, with Pakistani journalism seeing "a slow death." According to the report, Bajwa's media is "effectively micro-managed and controlled by the ISPR - the military's media wing."As per the South Asia Press report, the RSF noted, "Pakistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists, with three to four murders each year that are often linked to cases of corruption or illegal trafficking and which go completely unpunished."The legacy of Bajwa's tenure includes the resurgence of militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban and the rise of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), as per the report. The investigative report by exiled Pakistani journalist Ahmad Noorani which came just before the retirement of General Bajwa claimed that the family of Bajwa made billions of dollars in property and wealth during his tenure. (ANI)

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