Overlooked: Lt-General Haroon Aslam quits

Gen Aslam was not present at the corps commanders’ meeting chaired by outgoing army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Sumera Khan November 28, 2013
Lt General Haroon Aslam. PHOTO: FILE


Senior-most general Lt-Gen Haroon Aslam tendered his resignation on Thursday, a day after he was overlooked for the post of Chief of Army Staff (COAS). The resignation letter has been dispatched to the defence ministry from the Military Secretary Branch of General Headquarters (GHQ).

General Aslam’s resignation came less than a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Lt-Gen Raheel Sharif, third on the seniority list, as army chief and Lt-Gen Rashad Mahmood, the following senior officer after Gen Aslam, as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).

Gen Aslam did not attend the prime minister’s dinner on Wednesday and he was not present at the corps commanders’ meeting chaired by outgoing army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Thursday either. His resignation means that he will not attend the change of command ceremony scheduled to be held at GHQ on Friday.

Lt-Gen Aslam was the chief of logistics staff at the GHQ and principal staff officer (PSO) to Gen Kayani. The senior-most officer to the present chief, he will step down from his post on Friday after six years.

Lt-Gen Aslam took part in the military operations against the Taliban in Swat in 2009 and served as chief of the paramilitary Rangers in Punjab. He also played a key role in the western front operations of late 2000.

Possible reasons

But why was the senior-most general superseded, even though PM Nawaz had assured that the principle of seniority will not be ignored during the selection?

According to reports, a major reason for overlooking the senior-most general could be his alleged role in the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. However, Lt-Gen Aslam’s close aide told BBC Urdu that the officer did not have any direct role in the operation against Bugti.

Other military officials claim that Lt-Gen Aslam’s unscheduled meeting with PM Nawaz was another obstacle in his promotion to army chief. This meeting took place after this year’s August 14 Independence Day celebrations at Islamabad’s Convention Centre.

An official at the celebrations told BBC Urdu that after the flag-hoisting ceremony, Gen Kayani and others saw the conspicuous absence of Lt-Gen Aslam, who stayed behind to meet with the premier. This irked those in khaki, he said.

Meanwhile, PML-N cabinet member Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch lobbying by the ‘main contenders’ of the coveted army chief post adversely affected their promotion perspectives. He was apparently referring to Lt-Gen Aslam’s case, according to the BBC.

Hope for better civil-military relations 

Defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood said that one should remain optimistic about the progressive doctrine of the civil-military relationship in the future.

Academic and author Ahmed Rashid said a change was taking place in the region and that the civil-military leadership will have to give new dimensions to the foreign policy.

Moreover, former Air Vice Marshal Shezad Chaudhry said the new COAS would have to make the important choice of opting for war or dialogue with the Taliban.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2013.


AliKuliKhan | 9 years ago | Reply

@ Hameed Its a tradition that when a senior officer is superseded he resigns to avoid the likely embarrassment of a junior person giving orders to a previously senior officer. It does not in any way mean the the gentleman who was superseded did not agree with the promotion.

Shah | 9 years ago | Reply

Sadly Pakistan is full of injustice at its best.

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