Pakistan extends military chief’s tenure amid Kashmir row

20 August, 2019 12:00 AM printer

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan extended its military chief’s tenure Monday, ensuring stability in what is arguably the country’s most powerful position as tensions soar with rival India and Washington is expected to announce a withdrawal deal in Afghanistan, reports AFP.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed as chief of army staff for another term of three years,” read a statement from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office. “The decision has been taken in view of the regional security environment.”

The extension, which had been widely expected, was also confirmed by the military’s spokesman.

The Pakistani military has long played an outsized role in national life, offering the muscular reassurance against nuclear arch-rival India that many Pakistanis see as vital to their identity.

Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the hugely popular General Raheel Sharif, who won the hearts of millions with his bruising campaign against Islamic militants.

Bawja’s extension marks the second time in nearly a decade that the country’s top general had their traditional three-year term extended. It comes as tensions have skyrocketed with New Delhi after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its autonomy earlier this month.

US President Donald Trump urged the nuclear-armed rivals over the weekend to come back to the negotiating table, conveying to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan the importance of “reducing tensions”.