Pakistan extends military chief’s tenure amid Kashmir row

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Pakistan extended its military chief’s tenure Monday, ensuring stability in what is arguably the country’s most powerful position as tensions soar with rival India and Washington is expected to announce a withdrawal deal in Afghanistan.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed as chief of army staff for another term of three years,” read a statement signed by Prime Minister Imran Khan and released by his office. “The decision has been taken in view of the regional security environment.”

The extension, which had been widely expected, was also confirmed by the military’s spokesman.

The Pakistani military has long played an outsized role in national life, ruling the country for roughly half its 72-year history and offering the muscular reassurance against nuclear arch-rival India that many Pakistanis see as vital to their identity.

Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the hugely popular General Raheel Sharif, who won the hearts of millions with his bruising campaign against Islamic militants.

Bajwa's extension marks the second time in nearly a decade that the country’s top general had their traditional three-year term extended.

It comes as tensions have skyrocketed with New Delhi after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its autonomy earlier this month.

Both India and Pakistan have controlled portions of the former princely state of Kashmir since independence in 1947. The dispute over the Muslim-majority region has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between them.

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