Outgoing military chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa handed over command of the army to Chief of the Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir on Tuesday at the change of command ceremony at the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, Tuesday.
“He [Gen Asim] is talented and his appointment will prove positive for the army and the country. My association with General Asim Munir is 24 years old,” outgoing COAS Gen Bajwa said. “I am happy that I am retiring after handing over the command to a capable officer.” Foreign dignitaries and federal cabinet members were among the people who attended the event.
The ceremony started at 10:22am with the GHQ Military Band presenting the cultural tunes of the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Senior military officials, ex-military leaders, federal secretaries, and senior civil leadership filled the seats.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Information Minister Marryium Aurangzeb, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, were invited, alongside former army chief Raheel Sharif.
In his speech, Gen Bajwa thanked God for giving him the opportunity to serve and lead the army. He added that the army personnel always responded to his command whether it was at the Line of Control (LoC), tackling terrorism in different areas, addressing law and order challenges, or coordinating efforts during natural disasters. “The army always responded to my call.”
“I am proud of my army which despite limited resources guards the geographical boundaries, from the ice-capped mountains of Siachen to the deserts of Thar. This army protects the people regardless of language, color, caste, or religion.”
He expressed the belief that the armed forces under the leadership of his successor would reach new heights of success. The outgoing military chief thanked his parent Unit, the 16 Baloch regiment.
“Like, General Douglas MacArthur said, old soldiers don’t die, they just fade away,” he said while speaking about his retirement from the army. “I will also fade into irrelevance but my spiritual connection with the army will always remain. When the army will win I will be happy and when the army will be in difficulty, believe me, my prayers will be with you.”
He ended his speech with prayers for his successor and the army.
COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who completed his six-year tenure, will retire. Gen Bajwa paid farewell calls to President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday.
President Alvi and PM Shehbaz hailed the services of Gen Bajwa.
The administration has suspended the Islamabad Metro Bus Service between the first 10 stations from Saddar to Faizabad. It will remain suspended from 6am to 3pm.
Earlier, outgoing Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his successor laid a floral wreath and offered prayers at the Yadgar-e-Shuhda, GHQ, Rawalpindi after a smartly contingent paid guard of honour to the COAS.
Before 1976, the head of the Pakistan Army was titled as Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C). The C-in-C, a post which was derived from the British Indian Army, was directly responsible for commanding the army.
Pakistan had six C-in-Cs since 1947 which are as follows:
- General Sir Frank Walter Messervy (1893–1974)
- General Sir Douglas David Gracey (1894–1964)
- Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan
- General Muhammad Musa Khan
- General Yahya Khan (1917–1980)
- Lieutenant General Gul Hassan Khan (1921–1999)
The C-in-C designation was changed to ‘Chief of Army Staff’ in 1972, in contrast to the Chief of Staff of the US Army. The COAS, whose appointment is made by the prime minister and signed by the president, appointment is for three years as per the Constitution.
Gen Asim Munir, a soldier with considerable operational experience, was designated as the country’s 11th chief of army staff on November 24.
Here is the list of COAS that served before Gen Munir:
- General Tikka Khan (1915–2002)
- General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1924–1988)
- General Mirza Aslam (born 1931)
- General Asif Nawaz Janjua (1937–1993)
- General Abdul Waheed Kakar (born 1937)
- General Jehangir Karamat (born 1941)
- General Pervez Musharraf (born 1943)
- General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani (born 1952)
- General Raheel Sharif (born 1956)
- General Qamar Javed Bajwa (born 1960)