Seven Generals of the Pakistan Army joined hands with Supreme Court chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa to block the Imran Khan government’s move to grant three-year extension to Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
ET has learnt that the seven Generals, including one who had served as a defence attache in Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, were opposed to granting a three-year extension to Bajwa as this would spoil their chances for the coveted post. The list of disgruntled generals includes Corps Commander Multan Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar who was on top of the seniority list for appointment as the Chief of Army Staff; Lt Gen Nadeem Raza, Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, Lt Gen Naeem Ashraf, Lt Gen Sher Afghan and Lt Gen Qazi Ikraam.
Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar stood at the seventh place on the seniority list to succeed Bajwa. Not all of them would have publicly opposed Bajwa, but the senior-most ones were strongly opposed to Bajwa’s attempts to manipulate the system to stay at the top, and reportedly teamed up with Pakistan Supreme Court chief justice to block the move.
Lt Gen Sattar (senior-most after Bajwa) is said to have finally resigned after being superseded. He is also said to have had a row with Bajwa a few weeks ago, having accused him of ruining the army’s image. Sattar was the most senior General on November 29, the day Bajwa was supposed to retire. Earlier, he had served as military intelligence chief, Infantry Division Sialkot Commanding Officer and as the defence attache in India. Sources claimed that General (retd) Raheel Sharif, before his retirement as Chief of Army Chief, had suggested Sattar’s name as one of the options for the top post for continuation of his policies.
“Two indicators of differences in the army. First, the antecedents of the petitioner show that he has been filing cases that serve the army’s interest. So, the only explanation of his filing the case against Bajwa’s extension has to be that some strong lobby in the army put him up to it. Second, a three-year extension would have retired about 24 Lt Gens. Some among them would have been contenders for the top job if Bajwa did not get an extension,” Tilak Devasher, member National Security Advisory Board and author of three books on Pakistan, told ET.
“If Bajwa would get an extension for three years, the most senior Generals will not remain eligible for the post of Army Chief. Chief justice Khosa, who retires next month, is part of the game. By extending Bajwa’s term for 6 months, he has provided the ones-in-line an opportunity to manipulate the legislation process. He has now thrown the grenade on the floor of Parliament. Bajwa is God but one of the many Gods in Pakistan,” Ali Salman Andani, a Pakistan military watcher, told ET.
Lt General Nadeem Raza belongs to Infantry and is serving as Chief of General Staff. He was promoted as a Major General in 2018 and will retire this month. As a Major General, he had served as Commandant PMA Kakul and Commanding Officer Waziristan. Lt Gen Humayun Aziz belongs to Artillery Regiment and got commissioned in 1985. Gen Humayun is serving as Corps Commander Karachi. The fourth senior-most serving General is Naeem Ashraf, who belongs to the Armoured Corps and got commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1986. Currently, he is serving as Corps Commander Multan.
The fifth on the seniority list is General Sher Afghan who got commissioned in 1986 and belongs to “Azad Kashmir Regiment”. Gen Sher Afghan is serving as IG T&E in Pakistan Army. The sixth senior most General in Pakistan Army currently is Qazi Muhammad Ikraam. He belongs to Artillery Regiment, and also got commissioned in 1986. Gen Qazi Ikraam is Commander ASFC. The seventh senior most General in Pakistan Army is Bilal Akbar.