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Pakistan

As Pakistan’s army chief retires on schedule, its Prime Minister has an opportunity to consolidate the slow process of democratisation under way in the country since 2007.

 
Dear General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Congratulations on being appointed the new Chief of the Army Staff. Welcome to the hot seat. Here’s what you might want to consider as you adorn the four stars– and a heavy responsibility – on your shoulders.  
 
Malice and bravado, which have become the main ingredients of public discourse in Pakistan, now threaten to develop into a wave of persecution against whoever is considered to be on the wrong side of the all-powerful authorities.  
 

The Army Chief has set some good precedence for his successor and lessons for his predecessors, some of whom had political ambitions which certainly hurt the institution. Smooth transition in any institution including the army is important. Similarly smooth transfer of power in democracy helps in institution building.

 

The Army Chief has set some good precedence for his successor and lessons for his predecessors, some of whom had political ambitions which certainly hurt the institution. Smooth transition in any institution including the army is important. Similarly smooth transfer of power in democracy helps in institution building.

 

Weeks after taking over the army command, General Raheel Sharif told a visitor that he would like to leave behind a powerful legacy. He has surely fulfilled his promise. A professional soldier to the core, he is making his institution proud by leaving his post with honour.

  Weeks after taking over the army command, General Raheel Sharif told a visitor that he would like to leave behind a powerful legacy. He has surely fulfilled his promise. A professional soldier to the core, he is making his institution proud by leaving his post with honour.
 

Gen Sharif may not be a great strategist or thinker, but he took tough decisions that turned the tide against militancy, though there are valid questions against some of his actions. He is leaving behind large boots, difficult for his successor to fill. Irrespective of who is chosen, the challenges for the new chief will be daunting. It is a battle only half won.

 
While India remains obsessed with counting or changing its notes and coins, Pakistan appears to be moving quietly towards changing its Army Chief. That is a big event in that country, considering the kind of power the Chief wields. Yet, the announcement seems to be withheld for the moment. The incumbent, Gen Raheel Sharif, is reportedly on rounds of important headquarters to address officers and troops as part of his farewell. The D-Day for change is likely to be 29 November 2016.  
 

The UNDP country director Ignacio Artaza recently wrote in this paper on the prospect of civil service reform in Pakistan. Earlier his predecessor, Marc-André Franche, also shared his pessimistic parting thoughts about poverty and inequality and the Pakistani elite’s callousness towards the poor. The more optimistic Mr Artaza pointed out the need for an efficient and accountable civil service, indicating that most reforms so far have focused on short-term, episodic gains and failed to make an impact even if he sees hope in the demand for reforms at policymaking levels.

 

An official announcement from the Pakistan Army on Monday that General Raheel Sharif has begun his farewell calls before his pending retirement next Tuesday has brought an extended drama to a close. Some in Delhi might keep their fingers crossed and wait to see if there are additional twists to this tale. For months now there has been speculation about a possible second term of three years for the army chief. There was visible public pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to extend his tenure.

 


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