RAWALPINDI: General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani handed the baton to the new chief of army staff, General Raheel Sharif at the change of command ceremony at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Friday, Express News.
Kayani expressed his confidence in General Sharif’s leadership, stating that he is “certain that the army will continue to play a role in the safety and betterment of the country under his [Gen Sharif’s] command.”
In his address at the GHQ, Kayani added that he will share in the happiness of the army when they succeed and in their sadness if they fail. “My heart will always be with you,” he added.
“Today we can all say with pride that the Pakistani army is prepared for all internal and external threats,” Kayani said.
“The biggest sacrifice is that of one’s life and the army has always been ready to lay down their lives for the country throughout history,” he said.
“There is no place in any part of the country where there is no tomb of our martyrs, but in the last decade there has been a rapid increase in the number of these tombs.”
He stated that he “got to see the situation of the country up close and can say with complete confidence that the citizens of Pakistan are capable and intelligent… and the future is bright.”
He told the audience of troops and dignitaries that he had “kept the interests of the army, the country and the nation above everything” in his command.
There is high security outside the GHQ and traffic has been blocked in routes leading to and from the headquarters. GT Road has also been closed off.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not be attending the ceremony.
Kayani was given a guard of honour when he arrived. He also laid a floral wreath at the memorial for martyrs.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the new Chief of Army Staff, Raheel Sharif, hails from a “martial stock” as his father also served as an army major, while his elder brother Major Shabbir Sharif was awarded the highest military award, Nishan-e-Haider, for his bravery in the 1971 war with India.
He has been the general officer commanding (GOC) of an infantry division and the Commandant of the PMA. As a lieutenant-general, he served as Corps Commander, XXXI Corps, for two years before taking over as inspector general, training and evaluation, overseeing the training of Pakistan Army.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had his last day in service on November 28, 2013. After six years at the helm of the Pakistan Army office, he leaves behind an indelible legacy.
The 14th commander of the Pakistan Army will now hang up his boots that have racked up a mileage of no less than 42 years, two months and 30 days – or 15,432 days to be precise.
Having begun as a cadet in PMA Kakul on 14 November, 1969, the boy from the obscure village of Mangot, Tehsil Gujar Khan, District Rawalpindi, Kayani will retire after having collected a lot of brass and making it to the very top office in General Headquarters, commanding the sixth largest fighting force on Earth for six action-packed years – the longest such tenure in Pakistan without having added ‘President’ to his title.