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COAS Gen Raheel Sharif speaks at the Lahore Garrison. ─ Photo courtesy DG ISPR Asim Bajwa Twitter
COAS Gen Raheel Sharif speaks at the Lahore Garrison. ─ Photo courtesy DG ISPR Asim Bajwa Twitter

Gen Raheel Sharif has kicked off his farewell visits nearly a week before he is expected to retire as Chief of Army Staff, DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa announced.

The army chief began his visits on Monday at the Lahore Garrison where he addressed and thanked a huge gathering of soldiers of Pakistan Army and Rangers.

Addressing the soldiers, Gen Raheel said accomplishment of peace and stability was "no ordinary task".

"Our sacrifices and joint national resolve helped us in off-setting all odds against [the] country."

Later on Monday, General Raheel also met the corp commanders of Mangla and Gujranwala. On the occasion he also met the troops posted at the garrisons and commended them for their high morale and dedication.

The army spokesman had in January rubbished rumours regarding an extension in Gen Sharif's tenure as Chief of Army Staff, quoting the army chief as saying he will "retire on the due date" in November this year.

Speculation had been rife regarding an extension in the COAS' term after former military ruler Musharraf called for an extension in his tenure, warning against a change in the military leadership.

The post of Army chief is inarguably the most powerful in Pakistan. On Nov 27, 2013, the government approved Sharif’s appointment for the post, a position that he took over from Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who stepped down on Nov 29, 2013.

Gen Sharif is expected to pass on the baton of command of the army to the next army chief at a ceremony by the end of this month.

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

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.

Gen Raheel's legacy

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.

The general garnered unprecedented popularity among the general public and on social media.

Earlier this year, mysterious banners calling on Gen Sharif to "take over" the government popped up in various cities across the country. Most recently, banners were spotted in Rawalpindi which urged him to contest the general elections in 2018. The army denied having any connection to the banners.

'Gen Sharif set example of graceful retirement'

Political and defence analyst Zahid Hussain while talking to DawnNews said the greatest part of Gen Sharif's legacy is that "he has led from the front".

"We already knew Raheel Shareef would not take an extension and that is a good example to set.

"All the decisions taken in his time were bold and sometimes people questioned him but all his operations have been successful and time has proved his opposition wrong."

"He has also set the example of a graceful retirement."

Hussain said in Gen Sharif's tenure, the army as an institution did it's job and did not lag no matter what internal conflicts there may have been.

He said the army's role could be made better in the future with better co-relations between the army and the civilian government.

Security analyst Talat Masood said the army chief's tenure was one marked by successes. Gains were made in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan, Karachi and North Waziristan.

"He will be remembered for his leadership and his performance. He has set a good example by saying he will not take an extension after three years under any circumstances. This is unusual for Pakistan."

"He's retiring amid so much praise and affection. Every leader should strive to win people's hearts through their position, profession and character," Masood said.

"It will be challenging for the army chief after him [Gen Raheel] after the example he's set in counter-terrorism, or with increasing the quality of our conventional or nuclear forces. They have shown unusual professional competence and it will strengthen our defence."

Political and defence analyst Dr Hasan Askari emphasised the importance of communication between the civilian and military leadership. "Because the situation is sensitive, it is important that civilian and military leadership remain in touch and keep the consultation process ongoing... If consultation does not happen, it is possible the strain we have seen now and then in the past may arise again."

Speaking about possible challenges that may arise for the civilian and military leadership, Dr Askari said ties with India, Afghanistan and the United States will be the biggest challenges faced by the institutions.

"India is building pressure along the Line of Control to increase pressure on Pakistan. It has increased the frequency of ceasefire violations. It will be a challenge."

"It also remains to be seen how peace can be brought to Afghanistan. The world seems to look to Pakistan [in this capacity]."

Additionally, he said, the biggest challenge lies in the change in the American administration after the election of Donald Trump. Both civilian and military leadership will have to establish a relationship with the new US leadership, Dr Askari said.

He added that the leadership of institution is as important as the institutions themselves. "Institutions may be outstanding, but if their leadership cannot make sound decisions then even the influence of powerful institutions can be corroded."

"It is important that our institutions learn from the mistakes that were made [in the past]... This is what will help us progress," Dr Askari said.

Political scientist Rasool Baksh Rais said the transition should "not be considered a change".

"It is simply a continuation, this is how it is supposed to be... In the past when an extension was given to a chief, it did not go down well, neither for the army nor for the individual."

"Gen Raheel Sharif has carried out his term with dignity," he added.

Journalist Hamid Mir was of the view that the army chief's transition should not be made a political issue.

"We cannot say the people want him to stay on... we can't judge the people's sentiments through a series of fake facebook accounts," said Mir, adding that Operation Zarb-i-Azb started by Gen Sharif has yet to be taken to its logical conclusion.

He said there is no shortage of capable officers in the army and "no commander in the army is indispensable".

"A good commander is one who leaves after him a good replacement."

He said transfers and appointments in the forces and courts should be done on the basis of seniority.

"But even when the army is making its own decision, it violates this system and gives power to whoever it likes... the elected government should change that and appoint people on the basis of seniority, like it happens in the case of the chief justice."

Profile: COAS Gen Raheel Sharif

Born in Quetta on June 16, 1956 to Major and Mrs Muhammad Sharif, Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif grew up steeped in the military tradition.

He attained his formal education at Government College Lahore and later went on to attend the Pakistan Military Academy.

As a young officer, he performed his duties in Gilgit in an infantry brigade and also served as adjutant of Pakistan Military Academy.

Over the years, Sharif climbed up the military ladder mentored by Musharraf who handed him command of the 11th Infantry Division in Lahore.

He was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award and honour that is given to both civilians and military officers of the Pakistan armed forces.

Despite the common surname, Raheel Sharif is not related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but is known to be close to tribal affairs minister Lieutenant-General Abdul Qadir Baloch, a key confidante of the Sharif family.

The general is married with two sons and a daughter.

Pakistan's army chiefs through the ages

Comments (83) Closed

Huma Nov 21, 2016 01:24pm

Thank you raheel sharif , we will miss you. Hope the new COAS follow your foot steps

Sab Se Pehle Pakistan Nov 21, 2016 01:27pm

Great man with great achievements. Huge respect for General Raheel Shareef. God bless you Sir. Pakistan Army Zindabad

JS Nov 21, 2016 01:27pm

you will be missed General sahib! your well-wisher,

Maverik Nov 21, 2016 01:32pm

Thank you Raheel Sharif. We, the whole nation, are indebted to you. Thank you for your services.

naqeeb Nov 21, 2016 01:34pm

God bless you Gen. Raheel. I wish our new General is one step ahead of him for the sack of our country. Politicians will be very happy on your retirement but we the people of Pakistan will remember you forever.

Jeep Nov 21, 2016 01:43pm

full salute to the boss

Pak-Kiwi Nov 21, 2016 01:47pm

Great man produced by Pakistan Army.

khan Nov 21, 2016 01:51pm

Hats of to you sir! you will be missed by Pakistani Nation....Your crusade for peace is unprecedented.

Sajjad Nov 21, 2016 01:53pm

Thanks for contributing such a crucial and important role that turned the Pakistan a peaceful Country again. Plz Head the CPEC project.

Sabeeh Ahmad Nov 21, 2016 01:59pm

Salute to you Sir!!! You have taken the right decision. We Pakistanis will always remember you..

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Nov 21, 2016 01:59pm

@Pak-Kiwi Like many men our military has produced. We just need discipline in our institutions like our Armed forces, than Pakistan can change and get on the road of progression.

asad Nov 21, 2016 02:02pm

He came, he fought and he conquered. He conquered not only the battle ground but also the hearts and minds of the people of this country who lost hope for a good future. And that's the biggest achievement of his legacy, i.e. giving HOPE. Thank you Raheel Sharif. You are definitely setting a high benchmark of leadership.

M.Mudassir Siddiqui Nov 21, 2016 02:02pm


Umreekan_Sundi Nov 21, 2016 02:09pm

Best of luck General Sharif.

ehsan maher Nov 21, 2016 02:18pm

Thanks you Raheel Sharif, the nation salutes you

kamal Pasha Nov 21, 2016 02:23pm

General should start new political party minus the existing corrupt politicians.

ihat Nov 21, 2016 02:28pm

well done raheel shareef. indians cannot digest your achievements. you exposed evry dangerous hands wwho destabilised our country. thank you raheel

ihat Nov 21, 2016 02:31pm

love you raheel. will miss you always . love you love you

athar Nov 21, 2016 02:38pm

Respectable adieu. He did not paid heed to sycophants who were trying to drag him in other issues. He stood to the sanctity of his oath and did professional job. He understood Plateau's saying that mixing professions will not bring desired results. Respect.

Zak Nov 21, 2016 02:39pm

Feeling sad and unwilling to let go .

Ayub Nov 21, 2016 02:43pm

This will set a good tradition.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 21, 2016 02:56pm

Keep it up and hang on tough.

pakistani Nov 21, 2016 02:58pm

Thank you sir for your service, you made pakistan more secured and we hope the next army general take advice from you.

Asim Nov 21, 2016 02:59pm

Hats off... He earned a lot of respect and honour. Hi successors and politicians should learn from him. If they serve the nation sincerely, they will earn a lot of respect otherwise they will ruin their career.

Abdul Rahman Khan Nov 21, 2016 02:59pm

But for one, the General has never ever disappointed the people of Pakistan. The Hero general is, and will always be, nation's 'Chaheeta general'. He only disappointed the people who wanted him to declare martial law and get rid of the corrupt politicians. A two-year condition for him to come back and guide the nation is too long. Can't it be cut down to one year for him? General RS you will always be in the heart of the people. LONG LIVE GENERAL RAHEEL SHARIF.

SR Nov 21, 2016 03:05pm

Good luck.

AHA Nov 21, 2016 03:07pm

He has achieved many things that are expected by a general.

Shakeel Nov 21, 2016 03:10pm

your name will be written in the history of Pakistan with golden words.

MSD Nov 21, 2016 03:12pm

We salute you Sir!

syed zafar kazmI Nov 21, 2016 03:15pm

The general has secured an ever glittering spothis in the annals of military history of this country for his accomplishments in every walk of life and selflessness and dedication to military code. Being a top military man, he has strengthened and nurtured the fledgling democracy of Pakistan. May God forever bless him and his loved ones and may Pakistan find another COAS of Gen. Sharif's class, caliber and character-one who would continue to eradicate terrorists& extremism from the country and at the same time uphold constitution and nurture democracy. My most respectful salute to you, sir general Sharif.

syed zafar kazmI Nov 21, 2016 03:22pm

@IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Many rogues too have been produced in the military and they have been primary cause for the state that Pakistan has been in for decades. The most prominent among them responsible for the sad state of affairs the country in today is Gen Zia. Let's not delude ourselves and instead stare direct into the undeniable hard truth. General Sharif is one hugely and extremely shining exception among this crowd. I pray and hope his tradition of class, character and honest discipline inspires many of his followers to pursue the same course.

Gul Nov 21, 2016 03:24pm

Nation will never ever forget your srvices for the country. You will be remain forever in the hearts of 200 million people of Pakistan!! God bless you Sir. Pakistan Army Zindabad.

shaz Nov 21, 2016 03:25pm

Very sad, but right decision by book. Hoping, next one would keep his policies intact and design more robust action plan. And down to earth like sir G Raheel .no doubt, he has served the nation to his best. Feeling very emotional , may be we Pakistanis has developed special attachment with him. I wish if he can stay more. Anyway,Good luck sir.

Shiraz Nov 21, 2016 03:33pm

Its all in the blood. The family he belongs too, the way he was brought up, mentored and served his nation and the institution he belongs to, all speak volumes about his integrity and fortitude.

He is like his elder brother, brave, determined and persistent, just short of all the honors his elder brother managed to bag and proved he deserved them.

The end is near Nov 21, 2016 03:42pm

Before saying farewell, please help in eliminating corruption and injustice from This country.

ZAE Nov 21, 2016 03:55pm

Thank you General Shb.

A ShAh Nov 21, 2016 04:13pm

Good riddance.

abdul qadir bastaki Nov 21, 2016 04:19pm

Great Soldier. Every Pakistani salute you. You have set a great example of graceful retirement

Amer RAO Nov 21, 2016 04:27pm

Pakistan Zindabad

Shakir Inaam Nov 21, 2016 04:48pm

Great professional soldier who performed his duty as one may expect.

khanm Nov 21, 2016 05:34pm

Good bye my friend good bye...Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. best of luck in future

shahid Nov 21, 2016 05:37pm

General sahib is great human being,great solider and great commander.

Syed Nov 21, 2016 05:41pm

Good riddance

Changez Khan Nov 21, 2016 05:45pm


Do you even know the meaning of "Good riddance"? may be you were NOT taught.

TrUTH Nov 21, 2016 06:02pm

Best of luck for his future.

M.Saeed Nov 21, 2016 06:13pm

From the sequence of progression if it is to be kept, Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem should be the next COAS.

DJ Nov 21, 2016 06:16pm

Another Golden Era is about to finish.Thanks for Good work for our country.We hope your successor will continue good work you started. Enjoy the retired life.God Bless u always.

Zubair Ahmad Nov 21, 2016 06:18pm

Thank you Sir, for the great career and Services for Pakistan in uniform.

Joe Nov 21, 2016 06:23pm

Go back to when Musharraf left ,we heard same type of comments. Look where he is today

Joe Nov 21, 2016 06:25pm

@A ShAh Agree with you.too much interference in political work. Did not let politician work to prove or otherwise of their worth.

GSK Nov 21, 2016 06:33pm

@Syed " good riddance "

Sir this is the worst compliment to the Soldier of own country.

in many countries when a soldier is seen the civilians stand and convey their "respect and love " Yes , I said love !!

COAS has earned respectful attention and admiration from many countries in the world. He didn't bother much for publicity and the reason you see now ...he doesn't want extension. Only true soldier can do this.

My best wishes to him and his family !!

Khalid Mahmood Nov 21, 2016 06:38pm

As a nation we have to learn to build and believe in strong institutions instead of individuals!

Kam Nov 21, 2016 06:40pm

@Joe Musharraf was a dictator who not even took part in politics but put whole top level judiciary under house arrests. Not sure how you can compare him with Raheel?

Irfan Nov 21, 2016 06:40pm

Good bye to General Raheel Sharif

Khalid Mahmood Nov 21, 2016 06:45pm

@Abdul Rahman Khan Historically we only worship serving chiefs!! We can see the fate of retired chiefs who jumped into the political arena. The latest example is of General Musharraf.

zubair Nov 21, 2016 06:54pm

Though Pak Army is performing well to build better situations in the country but very much week to stop corruption and terrorist attacks. sir you could stop these but you did not.

Jameel Nov 21, 2016 06:57pm

Greatest general in the history of Pakistan, who successfully restore peace in Karachi, break the terrorist nexus in Fata, give the other institutions their due space , and leave a legacy for the others to follow

Dawn Nov 21, 2016 06:59pm

Maybe extend your tenure a little given the circumstances? Best wishes anyways.

Naseem Nov 21, 2016 07:18pm

I agree with all the good work RS has done, but I wish he had also dismantled the nest of terrorists in S. Punjab and Lal Masjid

ahmed haris Nov 21, 2016 07:23pm


ShAkeeb Nov 21, 2016 07:27pm

A very energetic, caring and professional general whose services will be remembered in the history of Pakistan. Salute to general Raheel and please do not come in politics in order to retain your evergreen image.

Ameer Nov 21, 2016 07:31pm

Good work. Although he focused in Karachi but he could begin operation in Punjab and eliminate terrorists.

zak Nov 21, 2016 07:38pm

"India is building pressure along the Line of Control to increase pressure on Pakistan. It has increased the frequency of ceasefire violations. It will be a challenge."

What pressure? Indians come out the worse when they tangle with Pakistan. In fact Indians are under pressure, as their Media self hype does not match their actual performance at ceasefire line. And they cant do anything about it.

zak Nov 21, 2016 07:40pm

COAS Raheel Sharif, you have left a legacy of dignity, professionalism and patriotism. The civilians government needs to learn from you.

Qfnk Nov 21, 2016 07:45pm

Thank you Raheel Shareef! Long live Pakistan Long live Pakistan Army

Ghani K Nov 21, 2016 08:41pm

General , army is an institution based on traditions. You are setting an example that no general is indispensable, let someone else replace you. Please go out with your integrity intact and enjoy your retirement.

Ahsan Nov 21, 2016 08:54pm

General sb , you are the best son of Pakistan.After retirement, I am sure you will continue to serve your motherland and we will be happy to see you around with patriotic assignment. My best wishes

Aminuddin Ahmed Nov 21, 2016 09:18pm

1st of all Thanks to Gen. Raheel Shareef for Leading The Nation In War Against Terrorism, with Great Command. The Nation Will Miss U. Secondly Thanks to Dawn for providing In-Depth Knowledge of 4- Senior Lt. Generals. All are Professionals. Looking at the records seems to me as. Lt. General Zubair Mehmood Hayat would be the best choice for Chairman Joints Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC). Lt. General Ashfaq Nadeem Seems more Dynamic for the post of COAS. Lt. General Qamar Bajwa Could Be Another Good Choice. It Is Now on The Prime Minister to Select The Best One for The Country.

Namo Nov 21, 2016 09:51pm

@zak really.

adil Nov 21, 2016 10:02pm

One in a million General RS. A lion heart and a intelligent person. Very active. Salute to you Sir.

STARZAN Nov 21, 2016 11:48pm

Millions of Thanks & appreciations for your Excellence of execution in the performance of your official national duties! Jazak-Allahu-Khair!

Ahmed Nov 22, 2016 01:40am

@A ShAh: really?

ATif khan Nov 22, 2016 02:30am

Gen. Raheel,

You deserve being in this enviable position. You earned it. You risked you life flying in a helicopter over areas of Waziristan that were still unsafe. You drove the roads of Karachi without VIP protection. You led from the front and led by example. Now, do get some rest and catchup with your family. Some 200 million people owe their coming peaceful lives to you. Thank you.

Hammad Nov 22, 2016 02:39am

Gen. Raheel has set the bar very high for his successors.

Naeem Nov 22, 2016 02:43am

@Syed @A SHAH "Good riddance" ????

I am guessing one of you is from PML-N and other from PPP.

ROSHAN ali Nov 22, 2016 06:16am

I Dont think Pakistan has witnessed someone with such a loyalty before , he has been a man of honour , and we Pakistani really hope , he can suggest someone who can follow his footsteps , You surely will be missed . Long Live .

Zeeshan Nov 22, 2016 08:36am

What a graceful departure. Hope to see better future. You will miss for sure. Long live Pak Army , Long Live Pakistan. Pakistan Zindabad.

Fast Nov 22, 2016 09:56am

A role model for other army Chiefs salute to you sir.

Imtiaz ali khan Nov 22, 2016 02:23pm

@syed zafar kazmI but most military officers are not corrupt unlike politics. Salute to Raheel Sharif and Musharraf. It's Musharraf who gave us free media, media now one of the biggest scare for the corrupt leaders and also media is now a teacher of so many millions of uneducated Pakistanis. He made some mistakes but mostly he was a excellent soldier, who was honest which is the best quality and missing in almost all politicians except IK. Wish you well Gen Raheel Sharif. A true son of a soil.

Dr.Sadaf Nov 22, 2016 06:06pm

Thank you General for everything, you made the institution more strong than ever.

Fareed N Nov 22, 2016 06:52pm

Thank you general , for being a 100% professional soldier. Nation thanks you for setting an example for future COAS, when tenure is finished, don't go for extension.

El Cid Nov 23, 2016 02:06pm

@A ShAh Well said. Time to get a real soldier in place in these hostile times.

Kashmiri Nov 24, 2016 04:41am

He belongs to a martial stock. A military family that fought for Pakistan. A true Generals General!