ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif began his farewell visits on Monday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
The army chief who is set to retire this month, kicked off his farewell visits and addresses from Lahore. He is expected to visit Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar soon.
During his visit to Lahore, General Raheel addressed a gathering of Army and Rangers personnel. Thanking all army and Rangers officials for their services under his command, General Raheel said it was a matter of great pride for him to have commanded the “finest Army in the World.”
“Accomplishing peace and stability has been no ordinary task. Our sacrifices and joint national resolve helped us off setting all odds against the country,” General Raheel said during his address.
“We are fully prepared to respond to any challenge,” he said, adding that no one can dare cast an evil eye on Pakistan. He further stated that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has made Pakistan secure and stable, with a sense of greater hope and direction.
“Pakistanis are the most resilient and brave people in the world who have always persevered in adverse conditions,” the army chief said.
Gen Raheel was appointed as the country’s 15th army chief on November 29, 2013. He is scheduled to relinquish his office on November 29 this year.
In January, the Pakistan Army rubbished reports that the army chief would seek to extend his tenure from three to four years. “Speculations about extension in service of COAS are baseless,” the ISPR Director General Lt-General Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a Twitter message. While quoting the army chief, ISPR said national interest is supreme and will be safeguarded at all costs.
Further, the Islamabad High Court dismissed in October a petition seeking to elevate the current Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to the rank of field marshal.
Justice Aamer Farooq stated that the petitioner’s contention regarding the elevation to the post of field marshal” falls within the domain of the legislature and no direction can 144% be issued to the legislator to this effect”.
The army has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its 69-year history, and tension with civilian governments – including that of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – often runs high.
PM Nawaz himself was ousted from power in 1999 by a military coup. Pakistan’s last two army chiefs, including Pervez Musharraf, who led the coup against Sharif, were both given extensions.
PM Nawaz has until November 28 to name his choice of a replacement for the retiring army chief. Typically, the military provides the prime minister the dossiers of three or four contenders from which to choose.
Contenders this year include Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Ramday, Lieutenant General Zubair Hayat, Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad and Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, three of the prime minister’s aides told Reuters in September. The succession will also be closely watched overseas.