Pakistan: An Army With a Country

MIN READNov 29, 2016 | 04:03 GMT

Pakistan: An Army With a Country
Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa (pictured) will succeed Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif when his three-year term ends on Tuesday, marking the first time in 20 years that an army chief has stepped down after a single term.

(SS MIRZA/AFP/Getty Images)

The saying goes that most countries have an army, but Pakistan's army has a country. Even when it is not formally in power -- as it has been off and on for nearly half of Pakistan's 69-year history -- the Pakistani military wields tremendous influence as a kingmaker. Its leaders are no less consequential to Pakistan's political scene. Having been deposed in 1999 during his second term in office by then-Chief of Army Staff Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- now serving an unprecedented third term -- is understandably cautious in deciding who will lead the military. On Tuesday, Gen. Raheel Sharif will step down at the end of his three-year term as army chief, turning power over to his successor, Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. The occasion -- a significant achievement for Pakistan's government -- offers insight into the past, present and future of the country's civil-military...

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