Pakistan and the Bajwa doctrine | By Muhammad Tayyab

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Pakistan and the Bajwa doctrine

FOR the last few decades, Pakistan has been confronted with a number of challenges both internally and externally.

Among these challenges, politico-economic instability and deteriorating law and order situation lied at its heart.

Be it the Afghan Jihad back in the 1980s or the US-led War on Terror (WOT) in Afghanistan in the backdrop of 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has borne the brunt.

The country has lost more than 80,000 of its people and suffered economic losses worth some $120 billion since the early 2000s, coupled with extreme polarization on the political horizon.

In such a traumatic situation, the Pakistan Army, as an institution, stood firm against all odds. It has never failed its people as far as internal challenges are concerned.

Whether, it is a natural disaster like earthquakes and floods or the man-made chaos like extremism and terrorism, Pakistan Army has always been at the forefront; reaching out to the people in distress.

Effective successes against these challenges could never have been realized without the highly diligent and professional leadership of the institution.

Indeed, one of the worst chapters in the recent history of Pakistan has been the menace of terrorism that inflicted the country with severe agony and pain.

The most heinous episode was the massacre of school children in Peshawar APS, back in December 2014, where some 150 innocent people were killed.

The attack was a response from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) against the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb, spearheaded by widely popular General Raheel Sharif, the then COAS.

Subsequently, a harsh crackdown and a severe onslaught was unleashed against the terror outfits across the country that led to successful dismantling of the TTP, thus bringing more popularity to Gen Raheel.

At the outset of changing command in 2016, there were apprehensions in many quarters that the new chief may not be able to match the successes and aura of his predecessor.

However, since assuming charge of COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, through his outstanding performance, both on the national and international fronts, proved all those apprehensions and predictions wrong.

Honing on the efforts of his predecessors, Gen Bajwa remained committed to achieving and sustaining highly cherished goals of peace, stability and prosperity in the country.

Owing to his in-depth understanding and proactive approach towards domestic and international challenges, his policies were termed as ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ by a British defence think tank “Royal United Services Institute” which is acknowledged and highly regarded within and without.

The doctrine, though came under criticism from certain quarters, marked a radical shift from the chauvinistic approach of the institution and adopted a broader vision of issues regarding socio-economic, political and diplomatic matters.

Ostensibly, it provided a framework for peace and security; however it also laid down a blueprint for complex issues ingrained in governance and foreign policy.

The doctrine called for internal peace and stability, eradication of terrorist threats, maintaining cordial relations with all the countries, especially with the neighboring India and Afghanistan.

Although all these matters come under the domain of civilian institutions, the overwhelming input of military and the pro-active role of Gen Bajwa could not be denied for the effective attainment of national interests.

As far as the security of the country was concerned, the Pakistan Army under Gen Bajwa launched ‘operation Radd-ul-Fassad’ in 2017.

It was an effective attempt to nip the resurging insurgency in the country and to consolidate the gains of the previous military operation by eliminating latent/residual terrorism threats through direct and intelligence-based operations (IBOs).

Hundreds of potential terrorist networks were successfully dismantled and loads of weapons and ammunition recovered.

Apart from that, border-fencing project was kicked off in an attempt to restrict the movement of terror elements across Pak-Afghan border, thus buttressing the security of the country.

National security and peace are closely linked with economic prosperity in the country. Under Bajwa doctrine, defence forces also contributed greatly on the economic front.

By eliminating terror threats and reinstating peace in the country, it has paved a way for attracting international foreign direct investment.

Gen Bajwa’s direct interaction with the business community at different forums encouraged and enhanced confidence of business potential within Pakistan.

Above all, COAS’s reiteration of the military’s unequivocal support and commitment to secure the game changer project of CPEC has not only increased the prospects of economic prosperity but also strengthened Pak-China ties.

Gen Bajwa’s resolve and commitment to secure Pakistan’s ideological and sovereign borders have been remarkable.

His efforts for peace and cordial relations with neighboring countries could be gauged from two main events.

US’s safe exit from Afghanistan in 2021 and Pak-India standoff in the backdrop of Pulwama attack.

The US needed Pakistan’s assistance in the safe exit from Afghanistan and it was made possible through proactive engagement of Gen Bajwa in the shape of military diplomacy with all the stakeholders in Afghanistan.

Similarly, in the flare-up of tension between India and Pakistan in 2019, the latter’s capturing and subsequent release of Indian pilot Abhinandan was a practical demonstration of both the military and civilian leadership aspiration for peace and harmony with the neighboring countries.

In an age of hybrid or fifth generation warfare, where state institutions, especially the military, are confronted with a number of challenges of fake news, poisonous propaganda and baseless reports, Pakistan Army under Gen Bajwa has been successful in countering enemies’ ambitions and suppressing anti-state elements, hence safeguarding ideological borders of Pakistan.

Bajwa doctrine has undoubtedly been a series of tireless and sincere efforts aimed at bringing about positive transformation of Pakistani society by ensuring sustainable peace, stability and economic prosperity.

There is a long list of remarkable successes of the Pakistan Army under the diligent leadership of Gen Bajwa.

Raising questions on the integrity and sincerity of the institution under such dedicated leadership would be highly unjustified and would only harm the country’s integrity.

—The writer is a leading columnist and regularly contributes to the national press.