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Sunday Jul 31, 2016

Who will be Pakistan's next Chief of Army Staff? 

Who will be Pakistan's next Chief of Army Staff? 

ISLAMABAD: The announcement by the ISPR a few months back that General Raheel Sharif would not seek extension, on the one hand, had cleared the mist around rumours of his extension, but on the other hand, it had also turned the discussions to the new chapter: who would become the next COAS and hold this powerful and of course, a very important appointment?

The present Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif will retire on Nov 28 this year and Gen. Rashad Mahmood, who is the existing Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, will be retiring a day prior to the Army Chief, on Nov 27. If history and precedence have any say in Pakistan, the appointment of CJCSC is again likely to be made from Pakistan Army, because only two of the past CJCSCs were from other services. In this case, we will see two of the Lieutenant Generals being elevated as four star generals during November this year. Who they would be is a million dollar question, but statistics tell us a lot.

Seniority of PMA Long Course, coupled with the rank and Pakistan Army number [PA Number], determines one’s standing in the Army. Among the present three stars, we have officers from 62nd PMA Long Course, who are the senior most after COAS. From within them, Lt. Gen. Zubair Mehmood Hayat, an artillery officer, is the senior most and is the present Chief of General Staff of Pak Army. The others include Lt. Gen. Najib Ullah Khan, Lt. Gen. Wajid Ul Hassan, Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal, and Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Lt. Gen. Zubair remained on important appointments like Corps Commander Bahawalpur and Director General Strategic Plans Division before assuming his present office. He was also Principal Staff Officer with former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as a Brigadier.

Next in the line is Lt. Gen. Najeeb ullah Khan, who is from the Corps of Engineers and is presently serving as Director General Joint Staff. He was previously Quarter Master General in GHQ and also served as DG FWO. However, he has also not commanded a corps yet.

Next in seniority is the officer from the Armoured Corps, Lt. Gen. Wajid Ul Hassan. He is presently serving as the Chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila. However, he has not commanded any corps as yet too.

Fourth in line is Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, who had been Chief of General Staff and was also Director General Military Operations. Presently, he is commanding Multan Corps.

Note that many of the former army chiefs had also served as DGMO. These include Gen. Jehangir Karamat, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, who all held appointment of DGMO before becoming an army chief.

Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal is another prominent officer from 62nd Long Course, who is presently commanding Bahawalpur Corps and was previously president of National Defence University.

Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is also among the runners who was previously Commander of important Rawalpindi Corps and is presently employed as Inspector General Training and Evaluation, at GHQ, a position General Raheel Sharif held before becoming the army chief.

Normally, commanding a corps carries huge weightage before being considered for promotion to the four-star general. If the prime minister considers this important fact, then we will clearly see four frontrunners for the two appointments of CJCSC and COAS: Lt. Gen. Zubair Hayat, Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal, and Lt. Gen. Qamar Bajwa. Normally, CGS and DGMO are the most important appointments in the career of any general officer, as majority of former chiefs had either been CGS, DGMO, or both.

Prime Minister office has to make the final decision, and recommendations of the present chief will definitely carry a lot of value. In 1992, Mr Nawaz Sharif announced appointment of Gen. Asif Nawaz, three months prior to the vacation by Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg. What course of action he adopts this year and who he selects for this coveted position, will have a lot of bearing on the war on terror and the future of Pakistan.



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