General Bajwa recently visited Lahore and talked to an audience of students and teachers for several hours (news report here )A friend who attended this talk sent me this report:
A four hour talk with General Qamar Javed Bajwa
Today I had a class at 2:30 pm which I had to miss, but the reason was worth it.
Some faculty and students from LUMS, LSE, LGU, GC and FC were invited to the Corps HQ in Lahore and the talk was supposedly by the Corps Commander. However, when the talk started at 10 am, we were surprised to see General Bajwa enter and then sit at a large desk on the raised stage, all alone. As per etiquette, I am not reproducing the stunning talk but only my general impressions.
General Bajwa was supposed to talk for 30 minutes followed by Q and A for 30 minutes: Anybody could ask anything. The corps commander, the GOCs, ISPR were there but mostly it was students and faculty.
The talk started at 10 am and finished at 2 pm! And I can say I have never listened to a more candid talk on Pakistan’s history, politics, and even personal issues by the senior most army officer. Not even heard of such a talk.
General Bajwa is, no doubt, a gifted speaker. To sustain interest for so long and to answer all kinds of questions (some of the questions were as candid and upfront as you can imagine, infact beyond imagination) is amazing. Secondly, he has an unrivaled sense of humor: He cracked top of the line jokes all the time, interspersed his talk with verses, and responded with wit but also with logic. Thirdly, he knows things. Has learnt a lot and shared his candid lessons which again surprised the audience. He went through our history since 1947, interpreted it in his own way which I found very insightful, balanced and honest. Democracy was the only solution, religion should not be forced on people, education was the need of the hour, discrimination is bad, all institutions can make mistakes and the important thing now is to move forward.
I was sitting right at the front, behind the generals, and I must say I appreciated General Bajwa’s thoughts a lot and one of the most amazing, even breath-taking analyses of Pakistan’s situation ever. Four hours passed us by and at the end he had to stop because of the Juma prayers – he shook hands with us faculty: I introduced myself. Then there was some tea (hot gulab jamans, sandwiches). I got to my car (my faithful 1995 Margalla parked right next to the GOC’s sparkling SUV) and phoned cancellation of the class (my phone was in the car as phones were not allowed)