Ever since General Ayub Khan seized power in 1958 and ushered in Military rule, the Pakistan army has a permanent role in the politics of governing Pakistan. Despite a crushing defeat in 1971, when they lost half the country (East Pakistan) and 93,000 Pakistan soldiers being taken POW by India, the army continues as the main political force in Pakistan. The Hindu has reported that the PM's office has announced that General Bajwa has been given a three-year extension.

General Qamar Bajwa

General Bajwa took over as the chief of the Pakistan army after the retirement of general Rahil Sharif in 2016. He was due to retire in November 2019. MSN has reported that when Nawaz Sharif appointed him as army chief he was the dark horse in the race.

The general is an important figure and even during the last visit of the Pakistan premier to the USA he tagged along, something that never happened earlier. He has now been given a three-year extension by the Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan who has changed his views overnight.

Most powerful figure

The extension means that General Bajwa will now be the most powerful person in Pakistan until 2022. The move is justified by Imran Khan and the government as a necessity given the volatile political scenario in the subcontinent with the abrogation of article 370 on Kashmir by India.

Imran Khan when in the opposition at the time of Nawaz Sharif was prime minister had vehemently opposed any extension to the army chief. He had even quoted examples from WW I and II to buttress his opinion. All this has changed as in a moment he has given an extension to Bajwa.

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Military

Politics of compulsion

Perhaps Imran Khan had no choice and he had to give the extension, as it is well known that the devious plan to sideline Nawaz Sharif and imprison him on corruption charges could not have succeeded without the active complicity of general Bajwa. The army was always uncomfortable with Nawaz who was forced into exile by the previous president-general Musharraf on doubtful evidence.

They preferred Imran Khan who they were sure would be at their beck and call. This is proved true with the extension to Bajwa. Imran could not oppose the very citadel of power that had conspired to put him into the chair of the prime minister.

General Bajwa will now be the de facto ruler of Pakistan for another three years. The army is so powerful in Pakistan that even the US has recognized it with a 21 gun salute to the general during his recent visit to Washington along with Imran Khan.

However, this extension may not be to the liking of some of the other generals who will now have to retire. No discordant voices are so far heard but the undercurrent could very well be there. The economy is worsening by the day with debts of billions of dollars mounting up.

Imran Khan

Imran Khan has got a fresh lease of life as prime minister of Pakistan. He will continue as long as he tows the Army line of thought.

No Pakistan prime minister in history has ever completed his term of office and one will have to wait and see whether Imran Khan would be the first premier to do so.

The situation in Pakistan's neighborhood is hot and tense with Indian PM Narendra Modi injecting a new brand of aggressive politics. Pakistan is not used to it and general Bajwa will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to face Modi who recently abrogated Article 370 and the economic drift of Pakistan. It's a tough task and the general may well find that the extension is not a bed of roses

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