ISLAMABAD: After weeks of intense speculation in the media, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has finally made the selection of two senior army officers as Chief of Army Staff and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee.
Career infantry officer Lt Gen Raheel Sharif has been appointed as the new COAS, while Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood has been appointed the CJCSC.
According to a notification issued by the ministry of defence, Lt Gen Raheel Sharif and Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood have been promoted to the rank of four-star general with effect from Thursday, Nov 28.
Both generals would take up their new posts from Friday, the day the current Army chief Kayani retires.
Lt Gen Raheel is currently serving as Inspector General Training and Evaluation whereas Lt Gen Mahmood is serving as Chief of General Staff.
Raheel Sharif holds the Hilal-i-Imtiaz military award, and is the younger brother of late Major Shabbir Sharif, who received the Nishan-i-Haider for his bravery in the 1971 war.
Both senior military officials met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier today where the premier conveyed them the decision. The two meetings were viewed as immensely significant as they came a day before General Kayani’s retirement from his post of army chief.
The prime minister had sent to the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, a summary to promote the two generals and approve their appointments. The summary was approved, following which the notification was issued by the defence ministry.
“On the advice of the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and in pursuance of Article 243/4(a) and 243/4(b) of the Constitution of Pakistan, President of Pakistan and Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, Mamnoon Hussain has been pleased to promote and appoint Gen. Rashid Mehmood as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Gen. Raheel Sharif as Chief of the Army Staff,” said a statement from the PM House.
Raheel’s selection as army chief selection implies that frontrunner and the senior most military officer Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, currently serving as Chief of Logistic Staff, was ignored for the elevation.
The post of army chief is arguably the most powerful in Pakistan and anxiety prevailed on who will replace the taciturn, chain-smoking General Kayani, who will step down on Friday after six years at the helm.
General Kayani’s retirement from the post comes after rules were relaxed to grant him an extension in July 2010 by the PPP-led coalition government in what then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said was in the interest of continuity at a time when the war on terror was successfully continuing against elements who wanted to impose a system of their choice on the country.