ISLAMABAD: Who will be Pakistan’s next Chief of Army Staff?
This is one of the most burning issues being discussed in Pakistan at the moment and in recent days grabbed the headlines in Pakistani media. According to sources, it is likely, the Corps Commander Rawalpindi Lt. Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza may be given the top most portfolio of the army on 29th November but it is also stated that it uncertain as three other senior most Army general are also candidates.
The latest meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and present Army Chief four-star Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was held at the PM House on Friday, Ist July which initiated new speculations and discussion once again on the issue.
During one-on-one meeting, it is stated that government process and security issues were the main topics of discussion but notably no official handout was released by the ISPR.
The duo discussed matters related to Army’s professional preparedness. They also held consultation regarding internal affairs of country’s security situation. On this occasion, the Prime Minister also congratulated the Army Chief on receiving the Saudi Civil Award.
During last two days, three federal ministers, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, while talking to media-persons in separate meetings, that the appointment of next army chief will be held on time and as per the prescribed procedure.
By November this year, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will have to make some important decisions, including choosing the country’s new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), as well as the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the present Chief of Army Staff and a four-star general, is scheduled on November 29, 2022, after having been granted a three-year extension. He was appointed as the COAS by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2016.
If General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term is not extended, then the new COAS and CJCSC will be selected from among the following senior-most lieutenant generals of the Pakistan Army.
According to informed sources, in November, after the retirement of Gen. Bajwa and CJCSC Gen. Nadeem, the senior-most military officer will be Corps Commander Rawalpindi Lt. Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza. The general will be in the running for both the post of chairman joint chief of staff committee and army chief.
The other five generals who could be named to the top position are (listed in order of seniority): Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt. Gen. Nauman Mahmood Raja, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Aamer, Lt. Gen. Chiragh Haider Baloch.
The incumbent Director General (DG) of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad Anjum Sheikh would be seventh on the list, the report said.
Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar, has already ruled out the possibility of General Bajwa seeking another extension. “Let me put this to rest. COAS is neither seeking extension nor will he accept it. He will be retiring on time on November 29,” he told reporters during a press conference earlier this month.
In a recent press conference, Asif Ali Zardari took a jab when one of journalists asked about the future of former ISI chief and present Peshawar Corp Commander Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed and smilingly said that he (Faiz Hameed) has been side-lined. The second day, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar took exception over these remarks and condemned them.