Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has extensive experience of handling affairs in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the northern areas, was on Saturday appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff by elevating him to the rank of four-star general, officials said.
Bajwa will take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers in a formal handover on Tuesday, when General Raheel formally retires.
Raheel in January had declared he would not seek extension. “I will retire on the due date,” he had said.
There were speculations that the government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif has confirmed that Bajwa was appointed as COAS and Zubair Hayat as Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee.
“May God help us in these decisions and new appointments,” he said.
Bajwa was serving as inspector general of the Training and Evaluation and has been elevated to position of four star general and appointed as COAS, the officials said.
He has also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the Army’s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control.
As a Major General, he led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as Lieutenant Colonel. He also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander, alongside former Indian Army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.
Previously, he also remained the commandant of the Infantry School in Quetta.
The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with PoK and northern areas, reports said in Islamabad.
His military colleagues say he is not attention-seeking and remains well-connected with his troops.
The new army chief is from the infantry’s Baloch Regiment, which has given three officers to the post of army chief Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Ashfaq Perviaz Kayani.
Sharif appointed Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Zubair Hayat as CJCSC by elevating him to the position of four-star general. He is the senior most serving army officer.
Hayat is from the artillery. As a three-star general, he was previously posted as director general of the Strategic Plans Division and corps commander Bahawalpur.
The most obvious man dropped while making the two key appointments by Prime Minister Sharif is Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed who was serving Multan Corps Commander.
Another officer left out is Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday.
There were two other senior officers overlooked, including Heavy Industrial Complex Taxila Chairman Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain and Director General Joint Staff Lt Gen Najibullah Khan.
Another Lt Gen Maqsood Ahmed serving as military adviser with the United Nations is already on an extension and was not eligible for promotion.
It is the record fifth time Sharif appointed an army chief as prime minister. If his botched attempt to replace Gen Pervez Musharraf with Ziauddin Butt in 1999 is also counted, this will be the sixth time Sharif appointed head of army.
His earlier picks were Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua (1991), Gen Waheed Kakar (1993), Gen Musharraf (1998) and Gen Raheel Sharif (2013). Of the seven army chiefs after Gen Zia, five were handpicked by Sharif.
After Gen Musharraf, all four-star generals in the army -- Gen Tariq Majid, Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Gen Rashad Mehmood and Gen Raheel Sharif -- were from the infantry.
Gen Musharraf was the last four-star general from the artillery.