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Qamar Bajwa takes over as Pakistan’s new army chief, outgoing General warns India

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General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif and promised to improve the tense situation at the Line of Control soon. Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of a four-star general. Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension.

There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead the war on terror. The post of the army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.

After taking charge as the COAS from Raheel, Bajwa spoke to reporters. “The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News. Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in the keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders.

In his farewell speech at the ceremony, attended by former army chiefs, federal ministers and foreign diplomats, Gen Raheel Sharif stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress, and cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in the region.

“India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” General Sharif said.

Raheel Sharif said he always prioritised national interest in every decision he made during his tenure. But the security situation in the region remains “complicated”.

During the ceremony Gen. Sharif handed over the “command stick” to General Bajwa — signifying the changeover of the army command.

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