Pakistan Army Current Affairs

Pakistan to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia

Pakistan Army has announced to deploy troops in its close ally Saudi Arabia under existing bilateral security cooperation agreement. The decision comes after meeting between Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Key Facts

The troops have been deployed for training and advise mission. They will not be employed outside Saudi Arabia. The move comes three years after Pakistan decided against sending soldiers to join the Saudi-led military intervention in strife-torn Yemen. Already around 1,000 Pakistani troops have been deployed in Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan in various advisory and training roles. Pakistan is treading fine line in maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar and other regional players. The decision of deploying troops may annoy Saudi Arabia’s regional rivals like Iran and Qatar.

Background

Pakistan army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other Gulf/regional countries. Saudi Arabia has been pushing its fellow Sunni-majority ally Pakistan to provide troops since 2015 when it joined Yemen’s civil war but Pakistan steadily refused, saying it would not become party to any regional conflict. Pakistan also had joined Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) set up by Saudi Arabia and is led by former Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif which is still in an early stage to play any role in the conflict.

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Lt. Gen. Qamar Bajwa appointed Pakistan Army chief

Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa was appointed Pakistan’s new army chief (or Chief of Army Staff , COAS). He will succeed Gen. Raheel Sharif who has formally retired from service.

He was elevated to the rank of four-star general by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan. The Pakistani army is world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers. The army has played a prominent role in Pakistan’s politics since its independence in 1947 and so far has staged three coups.

About Lt. Gen. Qamar Bajwa

  • Gen. Bajwa has extensive experience of handling affairs in Pakistan-ocupied Kashmir and the northern areas of Pakistan. He belongs to infantry’s Baloch Regiment.
  • He has commanded the 10 Corps, Pakistani army’s largest corp responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • He has also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh.
  • Prior to this elevation to the top post, Lt. Gen. Bajwa was serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation.

Note

Under the constitution of Pakistan, the prime minister is the head of the country’s executive. But the army controls domestic-security issues, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the spy agency and the nation’s defence and foreign policies.

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