General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Urdu: قمر جاوید باجوہ; born 11 November 1960), NI(M), HI(M), is a four-star rank army general in the Pakistan Army who is a current Chief of Army Staff, appointed to this post by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 28 November 2016. Born in Karachi, Bajwa was educated at the Sir Syed College and Gordon College in Rawalpindi before joining the Pakistan Military Academy in 1978.
Bajwa was commissioned in 1980 in the 16th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment. Prior to his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army, he served at the Army GHQ as the Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation from 2015 to 2016 and as field commander of the X Corps from 2013 to 2015 which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control at Kashmir. In addition, he served as a Brigadier in the UN mission in Congo and as a brigade commander in 2007.
Early life and education
Bajwa was born on 11 November 1960 in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan into a Punjabi-speaking Jat family that initially hailed and belonged to Ghakhar Mandi, Punjab, Pakistan.
His father, Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad Iqbal Bajwa, was an officer of Pakistan Army who died while in service in 1967 in Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan. His mother passed away in September 2013. Bajwa’s father-in-law, Ijaz Amjad, was also an Pakistan Army officer who retired with a two-star rank, Major-General. Bajwa is the youngest of five siblings.
Bajwa completed his secondary and intermediate education at Sir Syed College in Karachi and Gordon College in Rawalpindi before joining the Pakistan Army in 1978, which directed him to attend the military academy.He was sent to attend the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul and passed outwith the class of 62nd PMA Long Course in 1980. Bajwa is a graduate of Command and Staff in Canada and later attended and secured his graduation from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, United States. He also attended the National Defence University. Bajwa is married to Ayesha. The couple have two sons, Saad and Ali.
Career in the military
After joining the Pakistan Army in 1978, Bajwa was sent to enrolled at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul, and passed out from the PMA Kakul where he gained commissioned as 2nd-Lt., on 24 October 1980 in the 16th Baloch Regiment at the Sialkot Cantonment – the same unit that his father commanded.
In 1992, Major Bajwa briefly served in the 5th Northern Light Infantry Regiment in Kashmir. In addition, Lieutenant-Colonel Bajwa served in the X Corps, stationed in Rawalpindi, as a staff officer. Upon promoting as one-star rank army general, Brigadier Bajwa served as the Chief of Staff (COS) at the X Corps before promoting to the two-star rank and commanding a division in Northern Pakistan.
In 2007, Brig. Bajwa commanded the Pakistan Armed Forces-Africa Command, attached to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO, in Congo Brig. Bajwa served in the Congo as a brigade commander then-Major GeneralBikram Singh, the former Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army from 2012–14.Gen. Singh later termed Bajwa’s performance there as “professional and outstanding.”
After being promoted to two-star rank in May 2009, Major-General Bajwa took over the command of the Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) as its GOC, stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.
In August 2011, he was honored with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military), and posted as an instructor at the School of Infantry and Tactics in Quetta,, and later taught staff course at Command and Staff College in Quetta, and course on national security at the National Defence University.
On August 2013, Maj-Gen. Bajwa was promoted to three-star rank and posted as field commander of the X Corps, stationed in Rawalpindi. He was appointed as Grade-I officer during his tenure as field commander of the X Corps. The appointment was commented in the news media that noted that Lt-Gen. Bajwa had been posted in X Corps thrice, which is the army’s important and largest corps, which has experience of keeping control over the situation in Kashmir.
In 2014, Lt-Gen. Bajwa was appointed as Colonel Commandant of Baloch Regiment.
In September 2015, Lt-Gen. Bajwa was posted in the Army GHQ when he appointed as the Inspector-General of the Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) where he was a Principal Staff Officer to then-Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif.
Chief of Army Staff
Bajwa with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and members of the federal cabinet
In 2016, Prime Minister Sharif confirmed the timely retirement of Chairman joint chiefs General Rashad Mahmood, while General Raheel Sharif dismissed rumores of seeking the extension for his term.
At the time of promotion to the four-star appointments, there were four senior army generals who were in the race included with seniority:
- Lieutenant-General Zubair Hayat–Chief of General Staff (CGS) at Army GHQ in Rawalpindi.
- Lieutenant-General Javed Iqbal Ramday– Field commander XXXI Corps in Bahawalpur.Lieutenant-General Ishfaq Ahmad–Field commander II Corps in Multan.
- Lieutenant-General Qamar Javed Bajwa–Inspector-General of the Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) at Army GHQ in Rawalpindi.
Initially, the race for the appointment for the army chief was rumored between Lt-Gen. Zubair Hayat and Lt-Gen. Javed Ramday who was close to the first family However, Prime Minister Sharif announced to appoint the senior most army general, Lt-Gen. Zubair Hayat was appointed Chairman joint chiefs committee.
On 28 November 2016, Prime Minister Sharif eventually announced to appoint the junior-most, General Bajwa, as the chief of army staff, superseding two senior army generals who were retired from their respected military services.
His strong pro-democracy stance and views may have influenced his appointment as an army chief as noted by the media pundits. The Reuters Pakistan reported that Prime Minister Sharif picked Bajwa because of his low-key style. He was also noted as the fourth oldest army chief of staff.About the reception of this appointment, Gen. Bajwa is known to have a sound understanding of Indian strategic ambitions in the region and experience of armed conflict on LoC in Kashmir. In December 2016, he was awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
Under the command of Gen. Bajwa, the nationwide counterproliferation operations and Khyber-4 were launched in February 2017 and July 2017, respectively.
In 2017, Gen. Bajwa received significant political criticism by the political circles and the Islamabad High Court for his political role during the far-right protests, in which Gen. Bajwa refused to follow the orders of Prime Minister S.K. Abbasi to deploy troops in Islamabad in order to end the protest. Instead, Gen. Bajwa acted to became a mediator and proposed Prime Minister to negotiate with the protesters which led to resignation of his Justice minister Zahid Hamid
Over the issue of supreme court case that disqualified Prime Minister Sharif, Gen. Bajwa reportedly refuted the leveld criticism on military playing a role in such regard. In 2017, Gen. Bajwa testified the military’s support for the parliamentary system before the Senate, denying any claims made in the news media of military seeking to support the presidentialism
In 2017, he was awarded a Turkish Legion of Merit for promotion of defence ties between Pakistan and Turkey.