ISLAMABAD - After unprecedented speculation and guessing, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday picked Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as the new army chief while Lt-Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).

President Mamnoon Hussain on the advice of the prime minister notified the promotion of the two officers to the position of four-star general.

The prime minister soon after his return from Turkmenistan met with the president at the President’s House and took him into confidence on the appointments.

A career infantry officer belonging to the Baloch Regiment, the new army chief was serving as Inspector General Training and Evaluation at General Headquarters, and the post was held also by the outgoing army chief Gen Raheel Sharif before he was elevated to the position of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) three years back.

While the new CJCSC General Zubair Mahmood Hayat was holding the post of Chief of General Staff at General Headquarters.

Both the new appointees would be taking charge on Tuesday, the day the current army chief Gen Sharif retires.

The other contenders for the two top slots were Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and Multan Corps Commander Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem. All four generals are from the PMA’s 62nd long course but have had different career trajectories. But all of them were regarded as equally poised to take the responsibility of the top position as all of them are having an impeccable professional career, according to defence analysts.

Both the new COAS and CJCSC separately met with the prime minister and thanked him for reposing confidence in them. The prime minister congratulated them for the new assignment and hoped that they would serve the cause of the institution in the best possible manner.

There was a lot of speculation about the appointment of the new army chief after a delay in finalising a name before the retirement of the current army chief. Some rumour mills also speculated that Genl Raheel Sharif would be given an extension for another year or two. But the formal announcement brought to an end all the speculations.

Among the four contenders for the slot of the COAS Lt-Gen Bajwa was fourth on the seniority list and the premier using his discretion picked him for the position.

The formal process for the selection of the new army chief normally starts with putting up of a list of senior most generals to the prime minister through the Ministry of Defence and then the premier in consultation with his aides picks one from the list. The PM also holds informal consultations with the outgoing army chief before announcing his decision.

Currently holding the position of Inspector General of Training and Evaluation at GHQs, Lt-Gen Bajwa has commanded the 10 Corps, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).

Lt Gen Bajwa has extensive experience of handling affairs in Kashmir and the Northern Areas of the country. As a major general, he led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as a lieutenant colonel, where he was GSO.

The new army chief is said to consider extremism a bigger threat to the country.

Lt Gen Bajwa has 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.

He has previously also remained the commandant of the Infantry School in Quetta.

Dubbed as thoroughly professional soldier Gen Bajwa started his career with 16 Bloch Regiment in October 1980. Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had all served as COAS, were also from the Bloch Regiment.

He is a graduate of Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, (Toronto) Canada, Naval Post Graduate University, Monteray (California) USA, National Defence University, Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen Zubair Hayat is from the artillery and is currently holding the position of the Chief of General Staff (CGS).

As a three-star general, he was previously posted as director general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is the secretariat of the NCA; and corps commander Bahawalpur. This makes him an ideal choice for the post of the CJCSC, who has an almost exclusive jurisdiction over nuclear forces and assets.

His postings as CGS and DG SPD afforded him an opportunity to work very closely with PM Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

During his tenure as major general, he was General Officer Commanding (GOC) Sialkot and later headed the Staff Duties (SD) Directorate. His stay at the directorate and his earlier posting as principal staff officer to the army chief brought him closer to Gen Kayani.

Gen Hayat is a second generation officer. His father retired as a major general, while Pakistan Ordnance Factories Wah Chairman Lt-Gen Omar Hayat and Inter-Services Intelligence DG (Analysis) Maj-Gen Ahmad Mahmood Hayat are his brothers.

He is graduate of Fort Sill Oklohoma, USA, Command and Staff College Camberlay United Kingdom and National Defence University, Islamabad.



General Bajwa new army chief