Nabeel Zafar describes a unique General Bajwa’s honour
General Bajwa’s honour has become the most feted Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army and the excellence of his performance has been widely appreciated. Recently, Gen Bajwa was singularly honoured when he became the first ever Pakistani to be invited as a chief guest at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Sandhurst is highly revered in the military circles of the developing world particularly South Asia where its practices and legacy are considered a cornerstone of military excellence and professionalism. This year Pakistan army chief was given the honour of representing British monarchy at the passing-out parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst where he was joined by cadets from 27 different countries. Due to the pandemic, Pakistani army chief had not visited the academy over the last couple of years but had been a regular visitor each year since he took over as head of the army.
Gen Bajwa expressed his gratitude for having been granted the unique honour and a great privilege to speak at the Sovereign’s Day Parade at Sandhurst and termed it proof of the deep-rooted relationship that exists between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, based on mutual respect and shared values which have been carefully nurtured by both nations over many decades. Similarly, the bond between the two armed forces is uniquely special and has been kept alive over the years through close professional contact in training and other military activities. The COAS welcomed the young cadets as they joined the most distinguished and the noblest of professions but also used the platform as an opportunity to remind them of the great expectations associated with their alma-mater and their respective nations.
Gen Bajwa added that the journey that awaits the trainees is challenging as well as exciting and reminded the graduates that they needed to acquire the lofty attributes of leadership, with clear sense of purpose, to gain respect and trust of their subordinates. He said that as they grow, the demand for professionalism will also increase pointing out that no one was born with professional knowledge rather it has to be acquired with constant pursuit. He asserted that without it one cannot achieve professional confidence which is the hallmark of successful military leadership adding that decision-making was also very important.
Gen Bajwa touched upon the changing nature of warfare by stating that as a direct consequence of the onset of fourth industrial revolution dual-use technologies and niche capabilities led by artificial intelligence are fundamentally altering the character of future war. Reflecting on recent technological and scientific advances, the general said that the battlefield of tomorrow would be characterised by extreme precision, lethality and transparency which would be particularly challenging for military leaders, especially young officers in the battle, both mentally and physically.
However, he said that this future is inevitable, and each one of the officers would have to adapt to new realities in the technological domain to ensure successful outcome in the battle.
Gen Bajwa added that the primary reason for armed forces to exist today should not be to prosecute wars but to ensure that they do not take place. He said that mankind’s destiny, more than ever before, hinges on our collective capacity to come together and take the route of peace and cooperation instead of conflict, communication instead of clash and multilateralism instead of self-preservation. Emphasising world peace as the need of the hour, General Bajwa said it was crucial to preserve the vitality, relevance and internal sense of impartiality in multilateral institutions, maintain consensus on the collective defence of global commons and uphold the prestige of international law. After the speech, he also inspected the cadets and chatted with them.
Gen Bajwa was also conferred the Order of the Union medal by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in recognition of his significant contributions to the promotion of bilateral ties. The medal is the second highest honour awarded by the UAE to senior officials of friendly countries. Pakistan and the UAE share a great history of cordial relations and a deep-rooted spirit of brotherhood, which is transforming into an enduring partnership. Gen Bajwa has joined the elite list of other recipients of Order of Union that includes former Lebanese president Emile Lahoud, Bahrain Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Britain’s Prince Philip, Dutch King Prince Willem-Alexander, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Earlier, Gen Bajwa was awarded the Medal of Excellence by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards security matters. In addition Gen Bajwa was also awarded the Bahrain Order (first class) award by Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Jordan’s Order of Military Merit by King Abdullah II, Medal for the Common Wealth in Rescue and Letter of Commendation of Russian Mountaineering Federation by a Russian envoy during his visit to Pakistan in December 2018 and Turkish Legion of Merit during a visit to Turkey in 2017. TW