Outgoing military chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Tuesday handed over the command of the army to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
He passed the baton of command to Gen Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ).
Gen Raheel Sharif addressed the ceremony after reviewing the guard of honour. In his final speech as army chief, he stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress.
“It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Gen Raheel said.
“I thank the federal government and political leadership for cooperating with us… I had the entire country’s cooperation, for which I thank the army and the nation,” he said.
Talking about Pakistan’s battle with terrorism he said that everyone has made sacrifices for the land.
“We were able to change the face of history by fighting a war against terrorism,” he added.
He added that India’s aggressive tactics in the past months have kept the area under pressure of looming violence, “but India should know that taking our policy of patience as weakness would be dangerous.”
Raheel Sharif said that the China-Pak Economic Corridor is the greatest proof of peace in the region.
“The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port shows that this journey of cooperation cannot be halted now. Those looking to sabotage the CPEC project should now ponder joining it,” said Gen Raheel Sharif.
The army chief expressed belief that the Pakistan Army would always live up to the nation’s expectations.
The army chief paid tribute to those who had lost their lives for the nation.
A military band kickstarted the ceremony with a number of patriotic tunes.
Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif and Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq are also in attendance.
Before the ceremony, General Raheel laid a wreath at the Yadgar-i-Shuhada.
Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, a career infantry officer belonging to the Baloch Regiment, was chosen as Pakistan’s next Chief of Army Staff and Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) on Saturday. Gen Bajwa will be promoted to the rank of a four-star general and will take up his new post from Tuesday, the day the current army chief Raheel Sharif retires.
Gen Bajwa was previously posted as the Inspector General for Training and Evaluation at the General Headquarters, the same post held by Gen Raheel Sharif before he took over as army chief.
Gen Bajwa was considered as a dark horse in the race for the army’s command and has now superseded Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila), Lt Gen Najibullah Khan (DG Joint Staff Headquarters), Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed (Corps Commander Multan) and Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday (Corps Commander Bahawalpur).
The succession may not immediately bring about a major change in policies, but it could still have important implications for ties with India and Afghanistan, and domestically for the civil-military equation and the ongoing fight against terrorism.
The army chief-designate is credited with having spent a considerable part of his military service in the Rawalpindi-based 10 Corps, which is responsible for guarding the Line of Control (LoC). However, his time at the 10 Corps was a period of relative quiet following the 2003 ceasefire accord.
This experience could prove invaluable as he takes command amidst serious escalation on the LoC, which saw some of the intense skirmishes since 2003.
On a personal level, Gen Bajwa is said to be witty, accessible, well-connected with the troops and not fond of the limelight.
He is the fourth officer from the infantry’s Baloch Regiment to become the army chief. Before him, Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Kayani rose to that position.