Pakistan's new army chief has expressed the hope that the situation in the border region with India would ease in the coming days. General Qamar Bajwa was formally welcomed on his first day at office at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Wednesday, 30 November.
Following the ceremonial guard of honour, Bajwa briefly spoke to reporters and hoped the situation on the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan, would improve soon.
Tensions between India and Pakistan are rising after dozens of cross-border attacks. The two nuclear-armed rivals have been blaming each other for the situation with no signs of a solution in sight.
Bajwa's peaceful takeover is significant in Pakistan, which had witnessed three military coups since its independence in 1947, as this is the first time in 20 years that such a transition is taking place on time. Bajwa was handed the baton by his predecessor General Raheel Sharif during a lavish military ceremony on Tuesday, 29 November.
Bajwa's optimistic remarks about relations with India are in sharp contrast to his predecessor's muscular position. "Challenges facing our country haven't ended as yet," Sharif said.
He added: "India's escalatory moves are threatening regional peace. I want to make it clear that mistaking our policy of restraint for weakness would prove dangerous for India. Sustainable peace and development in South Asia is not possible without the resolution of the Kashmir issue for which the world's attention is required."
The military plays an influential role in Pakistan, having a big say in domestic and external security matters, intelligence and foreign policy.