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Gen Raheel Sharif puts speculations to rest, says will retire on due date

Updated Jan 26, 2016 07:18am

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Gen Raheel Sharif at the change of command ceremony in 2013. ─ AFP/File
Gen Raheel Sharif at the change of command ceremony in 2013. ─ AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif ended on Monday growing speculations about an extension in his tenure through a brief, but sudden statement that paved the way for the government to start considering his successor who will take up the job from him in about 10 months from now.

“I don’t believe in extension and will retire on the due date.”

Gen Sharif’s statement, quoted by a military spokesman in a tweet, shattered the quietness of the slow start to the week.

The 43-word statement issued on behalf of the army chief was meant to quash the debate on whether or not the government should give him an extension and if he would accept it.

Coincidentally, the statement came as a petition was filed in Supreme Court’s Lahore registry seeking an extension for him.


Generals Maqsood, Zubair, Wajid and Ishfaq are the four most senior commanders; Nawaz Sharif to pick COAS for fourth time


It was, however, unusual for an army chief to so early confirm that he would be leaving his office on retirement. Gen Sharif, who became the army chief on Nov 29, 2013, is set to retire on Nov 30 this year after completing three years in office.

According to one of the general’s close aides, Gen Sharif never had any intention of getting an extension so he thought of immediately ending all rumors in this regard.

He would be the first army chief to retire on time in two decades. His predecessors Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen Pervez Musharraf got extensions, while Gen Jehangir Karamat was sent home prematurely.

Gen Sharif used his brief statement to reassure the country that the army was a strong institution and his departure would not affect the fight against extremism and terrorism.

“Efforts to root out terrorism will continue with full vigour and resolve. Pakistan’s national interest is supreme and will be safeguarded at all costs,” Gen Sharif was quoted as having said.

Back in 2013 when Gen Kayani announced that he would not take an extension for a second time, Gen Sharif was not among the favourites in the race for army chief. Even after he beat all the odds to become the chief, his detractors continued to doubt him saying he lacked intelligence and operations background.

But he did not allow those shortcomings to become a handicap and proved everyone wrong.

The high point in his tenure was the start of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in June 2014, something from which his predecessor shied away fearing blowback. The operation is now in its last stages. He is also credited for action against militancy in Karachi and partially restoring calm in the city.

Gen Sharif has all along been supportive of the government, except for a statement at the corps commanders’ conference last November when he expressed reservations over civilian administration’s governance. The comment presented the spectacle of a row between the civilian and military leadership. He has, nevertheless, maintained strong influence over the government’s foreign and national security policies.

Gen Sharif was also the architect of the reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which was suspended after it became public that Taliban chief Mullah Omar had died more than two years ago, but efforts are again under way to revive the process.

More lately, the general remained involved in a mediation initiative for defusing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir has, however, lately denied that Pakistan was mediating.

There was no word from the government over Gen Sharif’s announcement, but opposition parties welcomed it.

Defence observers believe that Gen Sharif’s decision would boost the morale of his ranks. They also do not agree that he would be a lame duck chief during the remaining part of his tenure.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan said: “The nation’s respect for Gen Raheel Sharif has gone up after his statement refusing to seek an extension. Gen Sharif’s statement will strengthen the institution of the army as nations are built on strong institutions.”

PPP Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari said: “The army is a premier institution of the country, the cause of which will be best served if the tradition of extension in service is not allowed to gain roots.”

Read more: Enter the General

Who could be next?

Going by the book, it is the senior most three-star general who would become the next chief. But this rule is seldom observed. Even when Gen Sharif became the army chief he was third on the seniority list.

A panel of three general officers is sent to the prime minister by the defence ministry, but it is his (PM’s) discretion to appoint anyone whom he thinks is most suited for the job.

The next four in line are: Lt Gen Maqsood Ahmed (currently on deputation with the UN), Lt Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat (Chief of General Staff), Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (HIT Taxila) and Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem (Corps Commander Multan).

The race is wide open but some defence analysts are of the opinion that Gen Hayat and Gen Nadeem are among the front-runners.

This would be the fourth time that PM Nawaz Sharif will get to appoint an army chief and fifth if one were to include his botched attempt to replace Gen Musharraf with Gen Ziauddin Butt in 1999.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2016

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Comments (83) Closed



A Man Jan 26, 2016 07:31am

Great Man

A Man Jan 26, 2016 07:32am

Made History

Santosh Menon Jan 26, 2016 07:42am

Great job, General!!.

Gideons Spy Jan 26, 2016 07:43am

Respect for General Raheel Sharif

Justice Jan 26, 2016 07:59am

Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zadari who are production of NRO, these guys think they can turn over and over, that is why they changed two term limits law. Honest people like General Raheel Shareef have dignity, political leaders need to learn from Raheel Shareef.

Ifti Jan 26, 2016 08:05am

Great leader; true patriot if ever there was one. Politicians should follow his example.

Adv Waqas Jan 26, 2016 08:14am

There were speculations that he was not intelligent enough? What's the level of intelligence upon which we judge our leaders? Yes he was not the one who would think selfishly and probably that is what which makes him less intelligent? What a parameter!

Tech Gs Jan 26, 2016 08:26am

Is he joining politics ?

Muhammad Salim Jan 26, 2016 08:34am

Incumbent COAS should continue the policies and direction set by General Raheel to put Pakistan back on track.

karachiite Jan 26, 2016 08:44am

I can only but love him to death ! Respect, honour, salute & thanx. It's bcoz of few people like Rahel Sahib that I sleep quite peacefully in my country.

Naveed Jan 26, 2016 08:48am

General Shahib you ignited a spark that awakened a Nation, kindly finish the job you have started and give the Nation some hope and leadership which we have not had for very long time and secure your legacy in history like your brother and uncle.

George Jan 26, 2016 08:49am

He should reconsider his decision. Pakistan needs him.

rehan Jan 26, 2016 08:56am

A great General who led by example . Long live Pakistan Armed Forces !

UMA Jan 26, 2016 09:04am

@George

he would for sure consider. He is more intelligent and political than so-called political slot in the country.

By announcing early, he gave open hand to current politicians and will push their tail all of a sudden.

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani Jan 26, 2016 09:06am

It will be very tough job to fill the vacuum created by him. Well! Thank you Sir. Respects!

Valar Morgulis Jan 26, 2016 09:07am

He should consider forming own party and initiating political movement after retirement for revival of Pakistan progress.

Imran ali Jan 26, 2016 09:09am

Officially he is allowed to give such statement regarding himself?

SHK Jan 26, 2016 09:16am

A great man indeed, who restored peace in the city of lights. We need more people like him.

Sonny Afridi Jan 26, 2016 09:18am

A truly decorated and professional soldier. The day he retires I'll be sad to see him go but what a legacy he would leave behind . A great soldier, leader and a true nationalist

Sonny Afridi Jan 26, 2016 09:18am

@Imran ali sure he is, why not

Walid Jan 26, 2016 09:22am

"Gen Raheel Sharif puts speculations to rest"

Till the Corp Commanders request him otherwise. Isn't that how it went in case of Gen Kayani.

Suresh Namboothiri Jan 26, 2016 09:25am

He is loved by most people of Pakistan. He has a mass following. I think he should take over Pakistan's governance for the next fifteen years - for national interest.

Baiju Jan 26, 2016 09:26am

Gentleman General...

SAB Jan 26, 2016 09:42am

PPP Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari said: “The army is a premier institution of the country, the cause of which will be best served if the tradition of extension in service is not allowed to gain roots.” He has the gall to say this when he as president gave extension to Kiani!!

khanm Jan 26, 2016 09:48am

@Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani ...Pal no one is indispensable in life... people come and people go what remains with us is the legacy he leaves behind...

auginpk Jan 26, 2016 09:51am

This shows his confidence in the system and any likely successor. Good.

khanm Jan 26, 2016 09:51am

@SHK absolutely right... peace is what we need... the question is do we really have it

Jainy Jan 26, 2016 09:57am

No extensions are ever favourable and we need to end this extensions system now. What he did or is doing was/is his duty as he is being paid for. He did/ doing his job and that's it. There are many more in Army better than him.

Ali Jan 26, 2016 10:45am

Thank you Raheel Sharif!

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jan 26, 2016 10:45am

A good decision!

Third Party Jan 26, 2016 10:51am

A constitutional, democratic Pakistan would be where individuals are always subordinate to institutions — and all institutions subordinate to a democratically elected leadership.

naqeeb Jan 26, 2016 11:01am

He is a great General and better not to extend his tenure

Mustafa Jan 26, 2016 11:04am

General Raheel is the modern day superhero.

Arif Jan 26, 2016 11:10am

Gen Raheel, if you will go now, Pakistan will be in further turmoil again. Please stay and finish the job :)

Ajay Jan 26, 2016 11:14am

I am from India. Laud his action against terrorism. In the interests of the region it would be wonderful if he continues. He has clearly demonstrated that it is important to go beyond blaming India and wasting energy on needless adversarial efforts like Kargil and go after the real cause. Possibly the best COAS Pakistan has in many many years.

yawar Jan 26, 2016 11:25am

deep respect for Gen. Raheel. he stood against the odds to end misery of nation and first and foremost he stood for Pakistan. our nation will hardly get any coas like him who thinks collectively. dont expect any other like him to come for your rescue ... its now upto nation to stand on their feet and end misery once and for all

N K Ali Jan 26, 2016 11:37am

Well done General Sharif! You are an important man in Pakistan and will not fade away so soon. What is important is the system and its functioning.

Arun-KS Jan 26, 2016 11:46am

Perhaps most revered Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan since its inception. His selflessness shows in his earlier and current decisions. He presents a challenge to follow his footprints for his successor. He shall take some more amazing and astonishing steps before his retirement, I believe. Every one should respect his decision and I am sure there is no dearth of Patriots in Pakistan to fill his place.

duaddash Jan 26, 2016 11:49am

You are a real patriot....... Tujeh.... SALAM with due respect and humble..... Great..... Let other's perform.......

IBN E ASHFAQUE Jan 26, 2016 12:19pm

By retiring on time General Shareef is providing sustenance to the army as an institution. Others should also follow his lead if institutions are to be developed in Pakistan.

M. Ahmed Jan 26, 2016 12:25pm

A true soldier! Maintaining the best traditions of the Army. Salute!

M.M.Sherazi Jan 26, 2016 12:46pm

The announcement of retiring on the due date by the COAS carries significant importance in the history of Pakistan; the General has been performing in a bold and transparent way to demonstrate equality on each front and face of the on-going affairs. It is a rejoicing moment for some of the political juggernauts and extremist puppets that the true soldier shall be out of power by late November, 2016. It is time to acknowledge that COAS has crushed the speculative atmosphere surrounding the million-dollar question of either granting extension or seeking extension.

M Akram Jan 26, 2016 01:12pm

Enemies of Pakistan within have bounced the greatly respected General to make this statement. Pakistan is not short of men of honor to take his place but by his actions and achievement he is definitely cut above the rest. Let us hope and pray that he hears the call of the people and agrees to extend his assignment until the job is done. We will just have to wait and see and no doubt his detractors in the PPP and beyond will keep making mischief for the country.

khangul Jan 26, 2016 01:15pm

An interlude of fresh air. His biggest achievement in my mind is clarity of thoughts and removing fear of terrorists. Really unmatched!

Justwasif Jan 26, 2016 01:19pm

This the only honourable way to go.

Arabian Sea Jan 26, 2016 01:22pm

To call a spade a spade, while COAS did his job well (and which is what one would expect from a COAS),

Rukhsar Fatima Jan 26, 2016 01:36pm

Sir, please don't go... we (Pakistani) love you a lot.

Abbas naqvi Jan 26, 2016 02:08pm

Yes, the General's departure should not affect the fight against extremism and terrorism. He was able to guide our anti-terror fight effectively lending it the required momentum to produce results. The Zarbe Azb operation has broken the back of terrorists who are now on the run. It is natural to expect that his successor will pick up from where he leaves and carry forward the fight with the same degree of strength and professionalism. Uprooting terrorism from the country should remain our top priority if Pakistan is to become secure for economic progress and political stability. General Sharif deserves to be given full credit for the success achieved so far in the long fight against extremism and terrorism. Good luck General and God bless.

Fahd Jan 26, 2016 02:24pm

the day he retires it will be another bad day in our history. all the people sitting in the parliament of pakistan are desperately waiting for that day.

Faraz I Hussain Jan 26, 2016 02:27pm

Why cant our leaders be like him, SAD!! 1 man can make such a difference. Pakistan zindabad.

Gourishankar Jan 26, 2016 02:29pm

He should contest elections.

Imran ali Jan 26, 2016 02:30pm

@Sonny Afridi .he is not supposed to give such statement since he is govt. servant and come under president of Pakistan

Zak Jan 26, 2016 02:47pm

@Ajay and he let india know, kashmir will not be abandoned until they have freedom from Indian occupation.

pk Jan 26, 2016 02:47pm

True example of discipline... Politicians to learn from it...

Zehri Jan 26, 2016 02:59pm

Before retirement he must take the corrupt politician in to task and give a clean way to the next one to come

Taimoor Khan Jan 26, 2016 03:07pm

He still got 10 months to go. Plenty of time to clean both internal and external mess, specially related to the financial terrorism and economic hitmen who have tried their best to destroy the country from within.

sandeep Jan 26, 2016 03:21pm

general sharif is a good guy....atleast better than his predecessors...

Khurram Waqas Jan 26, 2016 03:31pm

COAS has a high moral standard. The message itself is very strategic. To win a war you have to win battles. For a soldier, time is a decisive factor to defeat the enemy both physically and psychologically. As a former infantry commander, he knows in order to disrupt enemy lines and formations, you have to preempt. The architects of terrorism both conventional and economic, know for a fact that their time is up. It's the question of endurance and perseverance. The soldier will persevere and disrupt the enemies' diabolical designs and conspiracies. Winning the battles will ensure the ultimate win 'The war on all fronts'. The legacy will prevail.It's a general sentiment of the people and he reads the pulse of the deprived, disheveled and disfranchised people of the 'land of pure'.

shah Jan 26, 2016 03:45pm

The greatest leader in Pakistan today.

Salma Jan 26, 2016 03:48pm

Sir please revisit your decision. Bad news for Pakistan.

faiz Jan 26, 2016 04:20pm

Well done general, Hats off for true soldier, and his successor will follow him to strength army & country. Because security forces and law enforcement agencies have clean back ground others will not dare to break the law or bypass the rules. I hope this new trend will be observed in all institution within the country and new era is going to start with better future of country. Promote a culture where juniors will do their job rely on their abilities instead of wasting time for buttering to seniors for promotions and benefits.

RD Jan 26, 2016 04:40pm

The democratic government of Pakistan should make most of the situation and immediately pass a law that prohibits any extension to any COAS in future. Pakistan should strengthen its institution and remove arbitrariness from the system.

hammad Jan 26, 2016 04:55pm

good job general raheel sharif

hammad Jan 26, 2016 04:56pm

good job raheel sharif

SAK Jan 26, 2016 05:05pm

There should be five 5 year term limit for politicians.

Yes Man Jan 26, 2016 05:17pm

Gen. Raheel's work and efforts for solving country's problems are greatly appreciated by the nation. His mission to correct many of the problems in the country must continue. It is very unfortunate that a handfull of greedy politicians have looted the country for years, serving themselves instead of serving the people who vote for them. Corrupt politicians are good only for slogans and speeches, not capable of solving any problems i.e. electricity, water, education, healthcare etc. Corrupt politicians surround themselves with incompetent, no-ethics, no-back-bone individuals to control the system making millions. One desperately hopes some of the corrupt politicians, specially big fishes would be caught in the net, sooner the better.

dost mohammed Jan 26, 2016 05:39pm

Raheel Sharif should come into politics after retirement. We need principled people like him, with the true qualities of a statesman to govern the country.

Akil Akhtar Jan 26, 2016 05:47pm

That will be the biggest mistake....without him no one will be willing to fight the terrorism and the coward politicians will bring the country to its darkest days.

Ammar Jan 26, 2016 05:57pm

please re-consider your decision, get an extension sir

lucky Jan 26, 2016 06:16pm

Gen may be given extension as a compulsory reward. we are in need of him.

GQureshi Jan 26, 2016 07:23pm

We should respect his decision to retire. He did a great job against terrorism and won hearts. He may be burned out by now from his grueling schedules and may need a break. If nothing else, General Raheel has shown us the way to success. Let the future Army Chiefs carry this torch and follow in his footsteps to lead us to a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. I am sure ZadarI and likes of him are happy to see this great leader go but average Pakistani citizen wants him to stay. We salute you General Sharif for bringing peace to Karachi.

prashant Jan 26, 2016 07:55pm

No doubt! He is doing a commendable job in his tenure. Also probably the first general who is allowing democracy to mature enough in Pakistan. hats off to you Mr Raheel!!

Yes Man Jan 26, 2016 09:36pm

@lucky After retirement, this patriotic Gen. Rasheel should be asked to serve in some capacity for 2 to 3 years, to eradicate terrorism and send many criminals to jail. With his dedication to the army and the nation, he is a great asset for the nation, fully capable of correcting many of the nation's problems. Nation must be proud to have a capable and dedicated person like Gen. Raheel. Long live Pakistan.

An Indian Jan 26, 2016 10:35pm

It is a good statement. Let the political leadership to run / have control over all the institutions of any country...... A good heart from india. I think, it is good start for Pakistan democracy.... Instability of Pakistan was mostly created by autocratic leadership..

Blue Saffron Jan 26, 2016 10:58pm

There are very few people in our region who earn respect and admiration on both sides of border.

Respect to YOU sir!!!

Thank you for making South Asia a better place to live. History will always remember your contributions.

M Jamal Jan 26, 2016 11:16pm

We live in a strange world where a government servant has to decide for his retirement age.This tradition was laid by our great General Ayub Khan.Time has come where elected PM must have a say in every matter.

shahid Jan 27, 2016 12:31am

We respect your decision but please before you retire, send all terrorists and corrupt people to their proper place.

@@ Jan 27, 2016 01:41am

instead of focus on solve public issues,debate is good but have not enough time to tackle terrorism and move pakwatan towards peace harmony,progress,prosperity,healthcare,foreignpolicy,social,econonimal,employment,power,and all u want.

Syed Chishti Jan 27, 2016 02:53am

Bravo General Sharif. We need a couple of more General's like you and Pakistan will prosper in light of your honest leadership. Just do us a favor make some more people accountable before you step down from COAS post.

Syes Jan 27, 2016 03:43am

@Adv Waqas not intelligent, background in "intelligence" as a department is what the author meant

Al Karim Jan 27, 2016 03:52am

@Naveed He did more than just awaken a nation. He awakened the souls of many corrupt politicians.

Al Karim Jan 27, 2016 03:57am

@N K Ali He will never fade away, much less soon. His memories will always be indelible on the minds of every true Pakistani.

Sachin Jan 29, 2016 08:00pm

Great man. Man with sincerity, maturity and responsibility. Retiring on time is a very important and great bar to set which many after him WILL have to follow. This will set the right balance in the Army - elected PM relationship in Pakistan.