Pak army chief General Bajwa to retire next month, will not seek extension: report

The appointment of the army chief is the exclusive prerogative of the prime minister.

Islamabad:

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Friday that he will retire in five weeks and will not request an extension of his service, according to a media report.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to elect the new army chief after General Bajwa’s term ends on November 29.

The cabinet has announced that his successor will be appointed in due course and in accordance with the Constitution, Geo TV reports.

Citing unnamed sources, the station reported that General Bajwa said on Friday that he will not seek an extension and will retire after five weeks.

Bajwa, who has held the top post of the Pakistani military for six years, also said the military will not play a role in politics.

He was initially appointed in 2016, but after three years in office, the then government of Imran Khan extended his tenure for a further three years in 2019.

In September, former Prime Minister Imran Khan said General Bajwa should be given another postponement until the new government is elected, while reiterating early elections.

There has been widespread speculation that he could be offered a new term after meeting Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in London earlier this month.

However, that now seems unlikely.

The appointment of the army chief is the exclusive prerogative of the prime minister, and it may be the only time his judgment is accepted by the powerful army without ifs and buts.

The upcoming appointment is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

When Khan was in power, the opposition accused him of trying to bring in an army chief of his choice who could support his alleged agenda of victimizing opposition leaders.

Since he lost power in April this year, the equation has changed and now Khan says the coalition government wants to install an army chief of its choice to protect looted wealth and steal general elections.

Whatever the political significance of the rival rhetoric, the fact is that an army chief is rarely a silent spectator of the country’s political games.

The powerful military, which has ruled over the coup-prone country for more than half of its more than 75-year history, has so far wielded considerable power in the areas of security and foreign policy.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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