Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa
Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa is a retired Pakistani three-star general who has been serving as Special Assistant to the Minister for Information and Broadcasting since April 28, 2020, and as Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority since November 2019.
On December 11, 2016, Bajwa was appointed as Inspector General of Arms at the GHQ, where he served until he was promoted to Commander Southern Command and XII Corps (Pakistan) in September 2017. Before that, he served as Inter-Director General. Services Public Relations (ISPR), from 2012 to 2016 preceding Major General Asif Ghafoor.
Asim Bajwa was commissioned in 1984 at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul in the 34th Punjab Regiment. He graduated from the Command and Staff College in Quetta as well as the National Defence University (NDU) in Islamabad, and later studied at Staff College, Camberley. He did his masters in war studies from
NDU and defense studies from king’s college London. Asim Bajwa is married and has three children. His hobbies include reading books and playing golf.
During his military career, he has served in several teaching and command-level positions, such as leading an anti-tank battalion, the 111th Infantry Brigade, and an infantry division. He was a brigade major in an infantry brigade and served as chief of staff in a strike corps.
He instructed courses at PMA Kakul and the Command and Staff College, Quetta, and was the Deputy Military Secretary to the President of Pakistan. Bajwa helped General Pervez Musharraf to compile his book “In the Line of Fire”. In December 2010, he was promoted to the rank of Major General. On June 4, 2012, Bajwa was appointed Director-General of ISPR.
On September 22, 2015, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa was appointed Inspector General of Arms (IG Arms) in GHQ from 11 September 2016 to 28 September 2017. He was then appointed Commander, Southern Command of the Pakistan Army.
In November 2019, the Establishment Division notified Bajwa as Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority for a term of four years. On April 27, 2020, he became a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa replaced Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed a former head of the army’s information wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), as his assistant in media and broadcasting. Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa is a prominent figure in the Pakistan Army. His appointment as Khan’s special assistant in the media is unprecedented and will greatly benefit the current government. However, the appointment also points toward the growing need to bring in professionals to run key government ministries and strategic portfolios.
In Pakistan, Bajwa has the honor of reforming and reviving the Pakistan Army’s media policy and renovating the ISPR into an institution ready to meet the challenges of all kinds of information warfare. The first three-star general Asim Saleem Bajwa Leading the Army’s media wing, introduced the use of social media platforms such as Twitter to promote his organization’s role domestically and internationally.
Asim Bajwa has served as the head of Southern Command, a corps of the Pakistan Army, which is responsible for the security of the Balochistan province. More importantly, he is currently serving as Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), which aims to ensure the timely completion of Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Pakistan.
It is expected that with the appointment of Bajwa as a key figure in communications, the government’s information management crisis during COVID-19 will end. Since its inception, Khan’s government has not been able to handle its information game effectively. The argument is that a policy of poor communication was broadcast by politicians with deeply biased links and has caused great distress to the current government. “General Asim Bajwa will bring the vision of strategic media and communications that he established as the DG [Director General] of ISPR.”The government lacks this strategic vision of the threat,” writes Fahad Hussain, an editor with Dawn.
It is also a matter of pride that Khan is merely meeting the demands of the security establishment and the appointment of Bajwa is another step in that direction. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons why Khan has survived so far is his ability to avoid severing ties with the national security establishment. It reflects the smart politics of a prime minister who leads a very weak government and relies on the help of the national security establishment to manage the day-to-day affairs of his government.
To a large extent, the crisis of the COVID-19 has made it clear that khan is willing to give place to the National Security Establishment in matters of governance if he feels incompetence or a lack of capacity in the civilian ranks of Pakistan. While one can discuss the merits of this decision within the constitutional framework, it is commendable that Khan is willing to go the other way and ask for help. By doing so, he is not only streamlining the fight against COVID-19 but also wants to share space with an organization that can provide professional support and will share responsibility.
However, Bajwa’s appointment is a good sign for a portfolio that has been neglected for a long time. Bajwa should be expected to bring major reforms in the Ministry of Information. His track record with the ISPR indicates that he is reaching out to all relevant stakeholders to build a better understanding between the government and the publishing houses.
It is important to note here that Bajwa enjoys good relations with opposition parties, journalists, and media organizations. His calculations and clear language, from which he is expected to give a press briefing on the government’s response to COVID-19, will provide much-needed clarification on the issue of strategic importance. It is also expected that the ongoing blame game between the federal government and several other provincial stakeholders will either end or diminish. Furthermore, his appointment means that there is hardly an opportunity for the ISPR to clarify the government’s policy on the COVID-19 crisis, a trend that has continued for more than a month.