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ISLAMABAD: The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Asif Sandila, is retiring next week after 39 years of service.

He took over the reins of the Navy in October 2011 and will retire on October 7.

It is expected that his successor could be named sometime later this week.

The outgoing naval chief has started his farewell calls. On Monday, he met the Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, at the General Headquarters.

The names of four senior navy officers have been sent to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the defence ministry for appointment of next navy chief.

The officers being considered for the job are Vice Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, currently serving as vice chief of naval staff; Vice Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Siddique, deputy chief of naval staff projects; Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, commander Pakistan fleet; and Vice Admiral Syed Arifullah Hussaini, commander Karachi.

Adm Sandila’s tenure saw a number of highs and lows.

He assumed command of the Navy months after the infamous 2011 Mehran Base attack. The Navy continued to be haunted by security problems during his tenure. The botched terrorist attack on PNS Zulfiqar on Sept 6 was the lowest point.

A senior foreign military officer, posted in an embassy in Islamabad, said the attack on PNS Zulfiqar had shaken allies’ trust in the Navy and damaged its reputation.

The high point of Adm Sandila’s tenure was the strengthening of ties with foreign navies, particularly with those of China and Russia.

The Commander-in-Chief of Russian Federation Naval Forces, Admiral Viktor V. Chirkov, visited Pakistan in August. His four- day trip — first ever to Pakistan by a Russian naval chief — was hailed by the Navy as “historic”.

Last week, Pakistan Navy and Chinese 17th Navy Convoy fleet started joint drills, the first of the kind between the two navies.

It was during Adm Sandila’s tenure that fast track craft (missile) — PNS Azmat — was commissioned in the Navy. And first ever indigenously built frigate ASLAT was commissioned last year.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2014