Friday, December 2, 2016



                            Pakistan’s New Army Chief

                     – PSYCHO Analysis

                                          FOUR OF  'X' PARTS




CAN A PAK ARMY CHIEF CHANGE HIS                              STRIPES ?

                  Bobby Builds, Bajwa Inherits


                 Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh (Retd)

Pakistan has a new Army Chief. In Pakistan’s scheme of things, this is a very consequential appointment. Two former Indian army generals (retd.) offer their asssement about the change of guard at the Rawalpindi General Headquarters.



    Pak has appointed 16 Chiefs including Bajwa but the first two were British.
  •  Gul Hassan was sacked after the `71 defeat. Zia and Asif Nawaz Junjua died in harness. Karamat was eased out.
  • Three took over the reins -- Ayub Khan, Zia and Musharraf. Ayub made himself Field Marshal. Yahya Khan became President after Ayub.
  • All three Pak Army Chiefs who took over the reigns remained COAS, some preferring Army House over President House.
  • The longest tenure was by Gen Zia (12 years) and the shortest by Gul Hassan (less than 3 months).
  • Most were from Infantry with Armored Corps having three (Gul Hassan, Zia and Jahangir Karamat) and Artillery two (Tikka Khan and Mushraff).
  • Nawaz appointed five while his move to appoint Ziauddin  to replace Mushraff was scuttled.
  • Baloch Regiment has given the maximum of four Chiefs(Yahya, Aslam Beg, Kayani and Bajwa)

LITTLE ELSE CHANGES: The incoming chief will adhere to the prescriptions by the Deep State but should avoid personal wars of his own, especially towards the end of his tenure

Nawaz Sharif has the dubious distinction of a fractious relationship with all five Chiefs of Army Staff he has worked with, including the three that he chose himself.

It started with his first handpicked choice of General Waheed Kakar (superseding four senior officers) in 1993 subsequently reneging and pressurising Nawaz Sharif to tender his resignation as the Prime Minister. The next General that Nawaz Sharif had to deal with was General Jehangir Karamat (choice of the previous Benazir Bhutto government), and soon the irreconcilable disagreement between the two flared up, leading to the general’s premature resignation. 

Having burnt his fingers, Nawaz wanted to play absolutely safe. He superseded a ‘pliant’ Mohajir Gen Pervez Musharraf. He soon demonstrated his independent adventurism with Kargil and finally Nawaz Sharif was bumped off and exiled in a bloodless coup. In his third return to power in 2013, Nawaz had to ‘manage’ a cold and unpredictable Gen Pervez Kayani (chosen by his bête noire, Gen  Musharaf in 2007). After he ‘hung his boots as promised (after an  extension), Nawaz quickly pounced upon the opportunity to make his third personal choice in Gen Raheel Sharif.

Bobby (Gen Sharif’s pet name), like the new chief, was not the frontrunner and therefore seemed a ‘safe’ choice who could oblige! Except, Bobby too, would prove otherwise. He had lived his fairly illustrious military life in the shadow of his brother’s legacy, the late Major Rana Shabbir Sharif (recipient of Pakistan’s highest gallantry award, ‘Nishan-e-Haider’ in 1971 war). 

Bobby was always struggling to ‘live up’ to the proud legacy of his elder brother, who incidentally was the batch mate of Gen Pervez Musharraf. Belonging to the proud martial stock of the Janjua clan, Gen Raheel Sharif was the quintessential Pakistani general - barrel chested, plain speaking and perceptibly nationalistic. Soon, he would follow the independent streak that typifies the generals in the ‘Army House’ in the manicured cantonment town of Rawalpindi, as opposed to the despised politicos in Islamabad.

Expectedly, General Raheel Sharif came into his own and decided on the national narrative by taking on homegrown terror (after the Peshawar school massacre) and started defining the contours of foreign policy with dashes to Kabul, Riyadh, Washington, Beijing etc. on briefs that went beyond military matters. A hapless Nawaz Sharif was often left suffering the indignity of  making political retractions (post Ufa summit), policy flip-flops (with India) and getting lectured on domestic corruption (after ‘Panamagate’) by his Chief of Army Staff. 

Today, with the ensuing ‘selective’ war on terror, the ‘Panamagate’ expose and the flaring volatility on the LOC, made the Pakistani armed forces and Gen Raheel Sharif in particular, the real McCoy in Pakistan. By keeping his word on retirement, Gen. Sharif has further strengthened his legacy, and importantly of the Pakistani armed forces. Bobby won all the battles against the politicos, and built-up the relevance and favourable perception of the parallel institution, the armed forces. Bobby ensured that he could indulge in leisurely game hunts, whilst, the institution retains the glint in its bayonets, without having to resort to unnecessary formality and complexities of a military coup d’état.   

Gen Bajwa is the fourth time Nawaz Sharif has made a selection on his own. Unsurprisingly, his supposed apoliticalness and low profile ensured that he too, hopped over four generals. His credentials are eerily similar to those of Gen Raheel Sharif -- both were ‘dark horses’, both were IG (Training and Insp) before elevation, both are of Punjabi stock and supposedly, apolitical. 

However, a careful analysis of the Pakistani military history bears out the deep institutional truth, of a close-knit decision-making network that operates through a guarded and consultative grouping of corps commanders, which toes its own line. The military institution is larger than the individual, and the institution takes care of its own – the brazen freedom afforded on Gen Musharraf is a testimony. Clearly, Gen Bajwa does not carry the operational scars of the Indo-Pak war (he joined the Baloch Regiment in 1980) or suffered a personal angularity like that of Gen Raheel Sharif’s family in the `71 war. However, his familial credentials of military upbringing are impeccable, with both his father and father-in-law having served in the Pakistani Army. 

Gen Bajwa is the veritable inheritor of the well-oiled Pakistani military juggernaut, with carefully selected military men well ensconced in sensitive positions like the NSA (Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua) and the ISI chief (Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar) to oversee the seamless continuum of operations.

The present arrangement of an ostensible civilian government, with the reigns firmly in the hands of the burly military men works perfectly fine for the institution of the Pakistani armed forces. No perceptible change of strategic track is envisaged by the strategists in New Delhi. Nawaz Sharif has personally punted thrice before and got it terribly wrong. Gen Bajwa is the fourth time Nawaz has thrown the dice in a perennial power struggle that he has always lost, so far.

The writer is a former Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry


             CAN A PAK ARMY CHIEF
             CHANGE HIS STRIPES?

                           View from India


                       Lt Gen KJ Singh(Retd)

 Nov 30, 2016

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after months of speculation and suspense, has finally made his choice (record fifth time) for the Pak Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He has chosen the ‘dark horse’ and the junior most general as the next Chief. Gen Bajwa has been preferred over the senior most Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat who has literally been kicked up-s tairs.  The other two in the  probable list included Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, GOC of Strike Corps at Multan, who enjoyed wide popularity due to his professional acumen in shaping operational plans and policies leading to successful operations during Raheel’s tenure.  However, his being out spoken and high profile may have gone against him.

The fourth one in the race, an early favorite, Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday, may have lost out despite family ties.  Did it have something to do with the leaking of information to Cyril Almeida? They will have to be  found some sinecures or may resign. This will lead to five apex level changes: Chief of General Staff (CGS), two Corps Commanders, IG Training and Evaluation besides DG ISI.

The current process has also seen some very interesting trends.  

The first one is that the process entailed suspense and even intrigue till the `dark horse’ was nominated, that too after all the mandatory ceremonials of the outgoing incumbent were over. Nawaz, after disregarding seniority, would hope that t he new incumbent will buck the trend and remain loyal unlike his previous appointees. This last minute nomination and secrecy reflects insecurity and may impact continuity especially as the CGS is to be changed.

The choice of Gen Bajwa has led to some Indian Jats suddenly discovering links with Muslim Jats of Sialkot region.  We may recount that Gen Zia was a Mohajir blessed with liberal education at St Stephens. But he turned out to be a “Maulana General” who set the Pak army on the path of Islamisation.  The other Mohajir, Gen Mushrraf tried to prove himself more Punjabi than the real Punjabis. The obvious lesson is not to stereotype Pak generals based on their background. Gen Bajwa may also want to live down his relationship with Ahmadiya relatives though  his connections may have been played up by a rival.  This may also free him of the shackles that Nawaz may have planned to keep him in check.

Another complexity is that their responses are shaped by the deep state including the ISI, driven by its own interpretation of Pak national interests. Every new Chief goes through a  normative process and may even display two to three character profiles depending on the length of his tenure.  Musharraf-I was a hardliner with Kargil as his signature statement, Musharraf-II seemed to be yearning for a place in history and came very close to anchoring a possible solution in Kashmir, wanting to possibly match up to Vajpayee and Manmohan in statesmanship.

Like Raheel, Gen Bajwa steps up from a low profile job, yet brings hands-on experience of 10 Corps  with responsibility of PoK and LoC.  Initial reports of his easy going in style need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Pak media’s attempts to project him as a pro-democracy general seem to be part of  an orchestrated campaign that only the passage of time can validate.  As regards his UN experience  under an Indian GOC, the advice of his erstwhile [Indian] boss that projection in an international environment is different needs to be factored to rule out skewed profiling.

Transformative Chiefs  are becoming rare. Powerful ones have generally tended to be “roguish” and led Pakistan on dangerous pathways.  Gen. Zia’s Islamisation drive and Gen. Musharaff’s Kargil misadventure are two such obvious examples. Gen. Raheel was also set on this dangerous path with BAT actions; one possible lesson is that no general should be allowed to start a private war for his own ends and especially towards the end of his tenure. Let us hope Gen. Bajwa respects civilian hierarchy that will pave the way for cooling down on LoC. Luxury of this window may not be for very long as with time Pak Chief is likely to become more assertive and autonomous.

In sum, there is a now a new movie with a new hero and a new cast. Yet the story and script may remain the same as the deep state remains the ghost writer. The next Pak army chief is likely to remain focused on these interests and more importantly insecurities. Like they say more things change, more they remain the same.  The challenge is to help Pak civilian structures to re-assert their supremacy in this narrow window before the Army starts asserting itself again

The writer was former GOC, Western Command, Indian Army



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