ISLAMABAD, Oct 2: President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday appointed Lieutenant-General Ehsan ul Haq as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and Lieutenant-General Ahsan Saleem Hayat as Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) after promoting them to the rank of four-star generals.
The appointments, which take effect from October 7, were awaited with interest in the political circles in the backdrop of a controversy over President Musharraf's uniform and his continuing as army chief after December 31, 2004.
Gen Ehsan was heading the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) before his new appointment and Gen Hayat was Corps Commander Karachi. They succeed respectively in their new posts Gen Muhammad Aziz Khan and Gen Muhammad Yousuf Khan who retire this month.
Gen Ehsan superseded seven colleagues. If seniority were to be considered, the office of CJCSC should have gone to Admiral Shahid Karimullah, Chief of Naval Staff, for being the senior-most four-star officer in the armed forces. The post is supposed to rotate between the three services on the basis of seniority, according to military sources.
A former naval chief, Admiral (R) Fasih Bokhari, had resigned when he was overlooked in the appointment to the post in 1999.
It is a tradition with officers who are superseded to resign. Gen Ehsan ul Haq has superseded the principal staff officer to President Musharraf, Lt-Gen Hamid Javed, Commander Gujranwala Corps, Lt-Gen Javed Hassan, chairman of National Accountability Bureau, Lt-Gen Munir Hafeez, Commandant National Defence College, Lt-Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi, Commander Multan Corps, Lt-Gen Muhammad Akram, and Commander Bahawalpur Corps, Lt-Gen Syed Perwaiz Shahid.
After having completed his service tenure in 2002, Lt-Gen Hamid Javed was given an extension by the president till April 2005.
The next two officers in the seniority list, Lt-Gen Javed Hasan and Lt-Gen Munir Hafeez of the 39 PMA Long Course, are due for retirement on October 30 this year.
Lt-Gen Tariq Waseem Ghazi of the 40 PMA Long Course would complete his service tenure on February 1, 2005.
Lt-Gen Muhammad Akram and Lt-Gen Perwaiz Shahid were due for retirement in April 2005.
The military sources said the three-star vacancies created with the appointment of the new CJCSC and the VCOAS open the prospect of promotion for some 115 Major-Generals currently serving in the army.
The newly-appointed CJCSC, Gen Ehsan ul Haq, was born on September 22, 1949. He got commission in Pakistan Army in 1969 in self-propelled regiment of Army Air Defence. The then cadet officer Ehsan ul Haq of the 41 PMA Long Course completed his military training from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, in 1968.
Promoted as a three-star general on May 14, 2001, Lt-Gen Ehsan served as Corps Commander Peshawar before being transferred to the ISI.
A press release issued by the ISPR said Gen Ehsan has vast experience of command, staff and instructional appointments. Besides commanding a Corps, Gen Ehsan has commanded Infantry and Air Defence Division and Brigades.
Gen Ehsan is a graduate of Command and Staff College, Quetta, and National Defence College. He was decorated with Hilal-e-Imtiaz for his meritorious military services.
Lt-Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who was number four on the seniority list after Lt-Gen Hamid Javed, Lt-Gen Javed Hasan and Lt-Gen Munir Hafeez, was commissioned in an Armoured Corps regiment in 1967.
Lt-Gen Hayat narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in June this year when his convoy came under fire from militants in Karachi. He was promoted to the rank of three-star general in December 2000. Born on Jan 10, 1948, Lt-Gen Hayat has experience of command, staff and instructional appointments, the ISPR said. He has commanded an Armoured Division, Brigade and a Regiment.
Decorated with Hilal-i-Imtiaz military, Lt-Gen Hayat served as Quarter Master General at the GHQ before being posted as Commander Karachi Corps. He is a graduate of Command and Staff College, Quetta, and National Defence College.