ISLAMABAD: As General Raheel Sharif formally started his farewell visits on Monday and by doing so put at rest all speculations about possible extension in his tenure, the focus has now shifted on to who will be his successor.
Defence sources told The Express Tribune that a summary containing the names of four three-star generals had already been forwarded to the Prime Minister Office.
Traditionally, the outgoing army chief also gives his input for the appointment of his successor, though his recommendations are not binding on the prime minister.
However, a senior military official, when approached, insisted that Gen Raheel had not given any specific recommendation for the appointment of a new army chief and instead would favour a decision based on the principle of seniority and merit.
If the prime minister heeds Gen Raheel’s advice, the equation is quite simple.
At the time of Gen Raheel’s retirement, current Chief of General Staff (CJS) Lt-Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat will be the senior-most general, followed by Corps Commander Multan Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed. This means, barring any exception, Gen Hayat is likely to be elevated as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) while Gen Nadeem is expected to be appointed as the next army chief.
However, next two generals in seniority list – Corps Commander Bahawlpur Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and Inspector General Training and Evaluation in the GHQ Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa – are not out of the race either.
Military sources said all four generals have an ‘impeccable career’ and are capable both as ‘strategists and operational commanders’.
The announcement of the appointment of the new army chief and CJSC is expected on November 27.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2016.