LONDON: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the star attraction at the Lord’s Cricket Ground on Sunday when he was treated like a hero in the thrilling World Cup game between Pakistan and South Africa.
Sporting a maroon blazer and grey trousers, General Bajwa was greeted with patriotic chants and jubilation when he reached the stadium along with Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor to watch the game between Pakistan and South Africa.
At the gates, COAS was greeted by Pakistanis who were overjoyed to see him at Lord’s. A large number of Pakistanis queuing for entry into the stadium chanted slogans of “Pakistan Army Zindabad” and “General Bajwa Zindabad.”
General Bajwa and Major General Ghafoor enjoyed the match in the stands with the public and mingled with everyone. Seeing the Army chief in a public stand, a crowd of Pakistani started moving from other stands towards the East Block End where the army chief sat with General Nick Carter and others.
On the advice of security, the Army chief, DG ISPR and the others moved to a private box atop the stadium where they stayed till the 48th over when it became clear that Pakistan would win the match. General Bajwa was seen discussing the game with General Carter and UK’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew who was also sitting in the same box.
Both General Bajwa and Major General Ghafoor stood on the balcony and responded to the cheers and slogans from the crowd who connected with them from across the stadium. Their visuals were shown on TV as well as on the screens installed in the ground and the spectators — singing patriotic songs and raising spirited slogans — were able to spot their location. From the stands below the balcony, spectators kept calling on Major General Ghafoor to come forward to which he waved in response, thanking them for their support.
Separately, pictures of the Army chief and DG ISPR arriving at the stadium went viral on social media.
Hundreds of Pakistanis, even those without tickets, had camped outside the stadium to meet General Bajwa and Major General Ghafoor. Fans were seen camping outside around half a dozen entry points of the vast stadium with selfie sticks and cameras ready to capture the moment with the Army chief.
Fans went into a frenzy when the Army chief and DG ISPR left the stadium towards the end of the match, with those camping outside to get a glimpse of General Bajwa, rushing to him to shake hands and take pictures. People chanted slogans in support of the Pakistan Army and thanked General Bajwa for his services.
The Army chief smiled at the affection they showered, while DG ISPR expressed gratitude to the Pakistanis for their support.
In a brief comment before getting into his car, the Army chief congratulated the Pakistan team on the delightful victory. Drew, the British High Commissioner also applauded Pakistan on their victory over South Africa.
Pakistan defeated South Africa by 49 runs, knocking them out of the World Cup. The green shirts scored 308 runs in 50 overs, losing seven wickets. In reply, the Proteas could only manage to score 259 runs at a loss of nine wickets.