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Pakistan Army Chief in China to deepen strategic relationship

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa is accompanying Prime Minister Imran Khan on his official tour to China to further Pakistan's defence and strategic alliance with China. Agenda includes increased cooperation in military modernisation, airforce upgrading and joint strategy in Indian Ocean

Army Chief

Opinion |

On the latest leg of military diplomacy, Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa has arrived in Beijing amid Pakistan’s unprecedented challenges in its foreign and defense policies.

COAS will also join Prime Minister Imran Khan in latter’s meeting with Chinese President Xi and Prime Minister Li Keqiang during the three days tour.

A lot has happened regionally and Internationally since last time Gen Bajwa visited Beijing and reaffirmed Pakistan Army’s unwavering support for CPEC’s security – a task he has personally taken upon himself and set out as one of the strategic objectives of Pakistan Army.

After the recent crisis over India in the wake of IOK’s annexation by Delhi, It was China that stood behind Pakistan on the IOK crisis and raised the issue at the UNSC.

To advance Pakistan’s military-diplomatic interests and boost military to military ties between the countries, General Bajwa will be reviewing as part of the bilateral strategic relations. He is also expected to discuss India’s threat, the situation in IOK and regional issues.

Gen Bajwa enjoys huge respect in China—a rare appreciation from China for his leadership took many watchers by surprise when his tenure was extended as Army Chief for another three years

The military to military ties have seen positive turnarounds, been elevated and consolidated over a period of time and as it is, has assumed huge significance in bilateral relations.

Through his military diplomacy, Gen Bajwa is actively helping Prime Minister Imran Khan in foreign policy in the realm of security and defense to overcome current challenges.

The annexation of IOK particularly of the Ladakh region made China a direct stakeholder as Beijing has sovereign claim over a portion of the Ladakh region and hence subjected to India’s hostile posture.

Coincidentally, President Xi’s scheduled visit to India for the second informal China-India summit comes ahead of this high profile tour of the Army Chief. Strategic deliberations with COAS will likely also inform what President Xi will be discussing with PM Modi in the unscripted summit.

Gen Bajwa enjoys huge respect in China—a rare appreciation from China for his leadership took many watchers by surprise when his tenure was extended as Army Chief for another three years. That time Beijing’s unprecedented positive comments like, “We believe under his leadership, the Pakistan army will continue to make contributions to uphold Pakistan’s sovereignty, security interests, and regional peace and stability,” was an admission of his efforts on several fronts.

Under his watch, the army raised a battalion and announced plans to form another battalion to protect Chinese citizens and installations under the CPEC project.

China and Pak Army

China also highlights the fact that Beijing admires special  relations with Pakistan’s military establishment: it was Gen Bajwa who for the first time went to Beijing and assured Chinese leadership that like Pakistan’s armed forces, the civilian government of PM Imran Khan will also continue its pragmatic partnership and taking the CPEC to the next level quelling all negative propaganda in some western and Pakistani media attributed to certain government ministers against the mega project.

The new CPEC authority is also a manifestation of the highest commitment of Gen Bajwa to assure of the will of Pakistan’s army and sharing partnership with the civilian government in removing bottlenecks in the way of the CPEC and ensure smooth cooperation with China.

Read more: China welcomes the extension of COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa

Under his leadership, Gen Bajwa developed a strong bond with China’s military establishment with a new learning curve in the evolution of professionalism in fighting future wars, the use of high tech and dynamically networked manpower.

Convergence on ways of achieving stability in the regional security settings threatened by India’s aggressive posture also points to shared understanding between the two militaries.

For exhibiting vision unfolded in Rad ul-Fasad and hardening the gains of anti-terror efforts in erstwhile FATA and the rest of the country, Gen Bajwa was particularly credited by the Chinese leadership.

For Afghan reconciliation, the Pakistan army’s robust contribution to push through a peaceful solution also struck a chord with Beijing. It was Gen Bajwa’s thought process that led to a regional consensus between Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan as main stakeholders culminating in Beijing Conference issuing a joint statement for Afghan Road Map.

COAS shared the Chinese President Xi’s stance that CPEC is a benchmark for international cooperation in the BRI and should serve as a role model for 80 countries who have committed to join the mammoth project.

Last but not least, Chinese admiration for Gen Bajwa partly stemmed from the fact that the Pakistan Army is the only institution that is highly respected in the country.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan, and ex-adviser to the Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service. He is also Chairman of Centre for Geo-Politics & Balochistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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