General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been appointed as COAS for another term, his new term beginning when his present term expires in Nov 2019. The PM Imran Khan has taken this step “in view of the regional security environment”. He is very correct!
I may add that Qamar Bajwa has contributed tremendously to correcting an anomaly in our governance system for decades ago by ensuring the civil-military are on one page with the military in a supporting role. Given that we are indeed giving through a war-like crisis in our economy we are not too far from where the present impasse with India can escalate into an actual war. If it takes place, it would be short and intense, and will have no winners, only losers.
In such circumstances what you need is a soldier who must not only be professionally capable but be calm in facing a crisis. In three years of incumbency Bajwa has done an excellent job not the least recently, when he in a calm, measured manner gave an effective response to the Indian foray after their, “false flag” operation at Pulwama.
I would now like to repeat what I wrote only a few days ago in an article “Make Higher Command Effective”, to quote “All forces for meant nuclear warfare in the modern Armed Forces are grouped as an existing reality into a fourth service, “Strategic Forces”. Maybe the countering of “hybrid warfare” can be in the same service. Functioning as a separate entity for nuclear and missile protection, and almost outnumbering the PAF and the Navy, the Special Plans Division (SPD) forming part of all “Strategic Forces” whose command needs to be upgraded to a four star general rank. Rotating the command among the three Services is not practical. Why not have a single person to be both the Chairman JCSC and the COAS? Being hands-on commander of the Land Forces with concurrent command of both the Chairman JCSC his presence must physically be located in GHQ (General Headquarters).
A five star general, must have (1) operational control of all the Armed Forces. (2) the postings and promotions of Brigadiers rank (or Air Force and Naval equivalent) and above, and provide over (3) the Corps Commanders (and equivalent) Conferences of all four services. Procedural changes within the Defense Ministry do not require any Constitutional Amendment. We must have a four star Deputy Chairman from the Air Force or the Navy in rotation presiding over the JCSC Secretariat.
With a much needed new Service (already existing in all but name) created, out of the deserving four aspirants now in contention for COAS two should become four stars, one assisting the Chairman JCSC run the army as Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS) and the other as the Chief of “Strategic Forces”. This will also NOT impact and disturb the Army’s seniority structure. With India beating war drums that could lead to Armageddon, the existing practice needs an immediate reality check. With a smooth transition to this UNIFIED COMMAND. This can only be effective if the individual chosen has the necessary hands-on experience for the transition for making the JCSC an effective unified command,” unquote.
The great anomaly in Pakistan’s military make-up can be corrected once Qamar Bajwa takes over in November 2019. Make it happen, Imran!
The writer is a defense and security analyst