ISLAMABAD    -   Then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had, in November 2016, cho­sen a career infantry of­ficer belonging to the Baloch Regiment, Lt Gen Qamar Javed Ba­jwa as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the country. He was promoted to the rank of four-star general. He took up his new post on the day army chief Ra­heel Sharif — a wide­ly popular figure — got retired. There were ap­prehensions that the new COAS could nev­er match the successes of his predecessor who was also credited with curbing attacks by mil­itants against the civil­ ians. But since assuming what is considered the most pow­erful position in the coun­try, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa proved himself a person hav­ing real leadership qualities let it be the diplomatic front or military diplomacy. His suc­cessful approach to foreign and domestic policies was la­belled as the “Bajwa Doctrine”.

Gen Bajwa remained success­ful when it comes to foreign di­plomacy. He contributed a lot for the nation in internation­al disputes settlement. Under his leadership, Karkey Kara­deniz Electrik Uterim dispute settlement was one of the ex­amples of Pakistan Army ef­forts for the economic wel­fare of the country. A Turkish company namely Karkey Ka­radeniz Electrik Uterim (Kar­key) was found involved in corruption, a core committee comprising civil and military leadership led to the uncov­ering of evidence of corrup­tion in Turkey, Switzerland, Lebanon, Panama and Dubai (the UAE). This evidence was presented to the Internation­al Centre for Settlement of In­vestment Disputes (ICSID) Tri­bunal by the Core Committee. Pakistan Army amicably re­solved the Karkey dispute and saved Pak USD 1.2 billion pen­alty imposed by ICSID. If the dispute had not been settled and Pakistan would have paid the amount, Pakistan’s GDP would have shrunk by nearly 2 percent and Pakistan would have defaulted on its interna­tional obligations. On August 14, 2020, the President of Pa­kistan conferred civil award Sitara-e-Imtiaz to three offi­cers of ISI, who played a pivot­al role in successful settlement of the Karkey dispute.

Similarly, due to the Ar­my’s countless efforts under the leadership of General Ba­jwa, Pakistan was saved from $11 billion penalty in Reko Diq case and reconstituted a project aimed at excavating huge gold and copper reserves from the site in Balochistan. The Reko Diq agreement was a result of COAS’ personal ef­forts as he convinced all par­ties for a national consen­sus. The Reko Diq agreement was reached after several rounds of negotiations during the three years. Reko Diq will prove to be a game changer for federal, provincial govern­ments and people of Baloch­istan. It shall not only restore an investment friendly image of Pakistan but will also ac­crue major economic benefits, development of indigenous mineral exploration capability and result in a momentous so­cio-economic boost for people of Balochistan. 

Pakistan also made unprec­edented progress in FATF ac­tion plans. Through hectic ef­forts of both the civilian and military leadership, Pakistan was able to project its prog­ress as sustainable and irre­versible, addressing various legal, financial and terror­ism-related aspects through enactment of the laws. Paki­stan passed Ánti-Money Laun­dering Act (Amendments) to strengthen AML/CFT regime and discourage money laun­dering; Foreign Exchange Reg­ulatory Act (Amendments) to take effective and prompt ac­tions against Hawala / Hun­di networks; passed Mutual Legal Assistance Act to sup­port international mutual as­sistance against AML/ CFT and passed Anti-terrorism Act (Amendments).

Security to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects remains a hallmark of the current military leader­ship. Pakistan’s relations with China have deepened over the years with projects such as the CPEC. The main role for these strong ties has been played by Pakistan Army under the lead­ership of COAS Gen Bajwa as the security provided to CPEC and Chinese officials was en­sured by the Army.

Army foiled all the nefarious designs of the enemies to sab­otage the CPEC project. There­fore, Chinese Minister for Na­tional Defence General Wei Fenghe acknowledged and ap­preciated Pakistan Army’s sin­cere efforts for regional peace and provision of secure envi­ronment for CPEC projects.

Providing security to the Chamalang coal mines, rais­ing the special security divi­sion for the protection of CPEC routes, developing road infra­structure for CPEC and assist­ing the government in devel­opment and construction of the much-needed dams at con­siderably low costs through the FWO have provided the much-desired economic lever­age to the government. The success of CPEC can be accred­ited to Army as well. The ef­forts of the Special Commu­nication Organisation (SCO) in northern Pakistan are also commendable as it has provid­ed the much-needed support to CPEC projects and has per­sisted as the soft prong of di­plomacy and nation-building tasks.

Apart from raising 2 SSDs exclusively for CEPC security, comprehensive security mech was evolved for Non-CPEC for­eign nationals (esp Chinese). Keeping in view the require­ments and concerted efforts of all the stakeholders, 17 proj­ects were completed in the last 5 years, while 18 projects are in progress. In the field of regional connectivity, UPTTA (Uzbekistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement) was formal­ized.

Besides that foreign mili­tary cooperation on the cred­it of the military leadership in­cludes operationalization of China Pakistan Joint Commit­tee of Corporation, enhanced military-to-military corpora­tion with China and establish­ing 2+2 Forum in 2018, reviv­al of Counter-Terrorism forum and International Military Ed­ucation and Training IMET with US, initiation of Army lev­el Staff Talks with China, Tur­key, KS, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia, establishing 1st ho­tline mechanism between Pa­kistan and Chinese PLA, en­hanced defence partnership with KSA; new deployment for UN Peacekeeping Operations in Mali, S Sudan and Abyei and induction of women peace­keepers.

Kartarpur Corridor and pro­motion of religious tourism also remains a credit of the military leadership. The FWO developed the Kartarpur Cor­ridor, connecting the Gurd­wara Darbar Sahib in Paki­stan to Gurudwara Dera Baba Nanak in India and remained the main organisation for the construction of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. Despite hostile attitude by India towards the idea, state-of-the-art Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (DSK) project was completed in record time of 10 months, thus fulfilling a long awaited legitimate desire of Sikh Yatrees. The project was fully funded by Pakistan government as a gift to Sikh community. 

After the infamous attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 in Lahore, there was a virtual ban on international cricket in Pakistan, in which India played a major role. De­spite all efforts, it seemed that international cricket would never resume in Paki­stan. The soft prong of mili­tary diplomacy remained ag­ile and proactive, by inviting military teams from Australia, England and Sri Lanka to play cricket, thus changing inter­national perception and pro­viding confidence to interna­tional teams. Interestingly, the matches were held in La­hore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and even Waziristan to dispel all fears. The military diplo­macy was crucial in changing international perception and the military-to-military en­gagements paved the way for resumption of international cricket in Pakistan. Sri Lan­ka was the first country that visited Pakistan in late 2019 to resume international test cricket.

Military diplomacy remains the unseen hand in nation­al discourse and yet provides the required and desired ef­forts wherever needed. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) described Pakistan’s military diplomacy as “more action, fewer words”.

Furthermore, the Military by virtue of its credibility and military diplomacy has been able to facilitate the govern­ments of the time in securing much-needed financial assis­tance from Saudi Arabia and China. Similarly, Army and its leadership played monumen­tal role in convincing Saudi Arabia and China in rollover of their loans.

Gen Bajwa’s military col­leagues say he is not atten­tion-seeking and remains well-connected with his troops. He is extremely pro­fessional, but very easy-going and full of compassion. Gen. Bajwa is also said to be an apo­litical person without any bi­ases. He is from the infan­try’s Baloch Regiment, which also gave three officers to the post of army chief — Gen Ya­hya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Kayani.