On Dec. 19, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa faced the Committee of the Whole at the Senate in Islamabad for four hours and answered some “tough and tricky” questions from the senators, which were subsequently “leaked” to the media.
It was a far cry from then-Army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani’s appearance in Parliament after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011. Unlike Kayani, General Bajwa was accompanied by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Military Intelligence (MI) Director General, Major General Asim Munir.
What apparently took the senators aback was the bluntness with which General Bajwa made the stance of the Army clear about its role in Pakistan—that it was not involved in destabilizing elected governments. His most important assertions were as follows:
Most of the senators were overjoyed by what they heard, especially as the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was constantly hinting at the “hidden hand of the establishment” behind the ouster of its prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. There was however one exception. PMLN Senator Mushahidullah Khan stated after the session: “Forget about civilian and military leaders being on one page. Civil-military issues are a reality.”