ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday appointed Lieutenant General Khalid Shamim Wyne as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) in what is seen as the first tangible outcome of hectic political maneuvering in the power corridors this week. Lt Gen Wyne will assume the post on October 8.
The decision that came a little over 24 hours after a crucial meeting of the power troika — the president, the prime minister and the army chief — is also expected to have a deep impact on the country’s political horizon.
The president, in his capacity as supreme commander of the armed forces, approved the appointment in consultation with the prime minister.
Gen Wyne, who is currently serving as Chief of General Staff, will replace General Tariq Majid as 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on October 8. The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee comprises three services chief and the secretary of the defence ministry is also part of it. Its chairman automatically replaces the president as the supreme commander of the armed forces in times of war.
The appointment was reportedly one of the ‘conflicting’ issues the troika met to settle on Monday afternoon.
According to a ruling party insider, President Zardari had wanted to appoint Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nauman Bashir as CJCSC. Admiral Bashir is the brother of Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
According to experts, Zardari would have wanted to appoint Bashir for a couple of “politically-motivated” reasons, one of them to lessen the army’s dominance over other services — the navy and the air force.
In historic perspective, the Pakistan Army has always been the most dominant of forces. Last week, Admiral Nauman made no effort to deny that he was being appointed as CJCSC during a chat with reporters.
Had there been no extension in Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani’s tenure by three years, Gen Wyne would have been the senior-most general in the army and thus a potential candidate for a four-star post.
Observers say that by handing him the key post of a four-star general, Gen Kayani has somehow compensated Gen Wyne.
The office of chairman JCSC was created in 1976 by the late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the recommendation of the White Paper on Higher Defence Reorganisation. Its headquarters is located in Chaklala. Bhutto appointed General Muhammad Sharif as the first CJCSC. He served the office from 1976-78.
The 57-year-old Khalid Shamim Wyne is a three-star general who has been serving as Chief of General Staff (CGS) since April 2010.
He has previously headed the Southern Command (formerly the XII Corps) in Quetta from 2007 till 2010, overseeing the Baloch insurgency and the fallout of the war in the tribal areas.
Wyne comes from an army background. His father, Colonel Arshad Shamim Wyne, served in the army until 1972.
His unit was the 20th battalion of the Punjab Regiment.
He received his earlier education from different cantonment schools all over Pakistan and joined Cadet College Hasan Abdal as special entry in 1969 after Matriculation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.