The second-most senior Pakistan Army officer, General Sarfraz Sattar, has allegedly been forced to resign after being kept under house arrest with his family for weeks. The claim was made by Pakistan journalist Gul Bukhari on Twitter.
General Sattar was next in line to be General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s successor as army chief until his extension scuppered the former’s prospects.
Sources in the Indian security establishment told ThePrint that there was no independent confirmation of his forced resignation.
As director general of the strategic plans division, Sattar headed the operations of Pakistan’s nuclear command until November, when the charge was given to Lt Gen. Nadeem Zaki Manj. At the time, Pakistani media had reported that Sattar had retired.
A ‘vocal critic of Bajwa’s extension’ ::
Gen. Sattar has been known to be close to Bajwa’s predecessor Gen. Raheel Sharif, and was one of the senior army officers who reportedly vocally opposed an extension for Bajwa. The latter was to retire in November but has now been given a three-year extension.
“He had a sure shot chance at becoming the chief had Bajwa not got an extension. He was groomed by Gen. Sharif to ensure that he could become the chief of army staff,” a source in the Indian establishment said.
The source added that Sattar was a “hardcore Punjabi soldier” and many saw him as the one reimposing the Punjab regiment’s dominance in the army. Gen. Bajwa, the source pointed out, was from the Baloch regiment.
“A number of campaigns were run against Gen. Bajwa to ensure he does not become chief and then to ensure he does not get an extension. This included a whisper campaign that suggested Bajwa was an Ahmadi,” a second source said.
The Ahmadis are a persecuted Islamic minority in Pakistan who are prohibited by law from recognising themselves as Muslim.