ISLAMABAD: Newly-appointed Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, a Rajput, has taken the fruit of luck, which plays a key role in his career as a professional soldier before he was elevated to the most powerful office of the Pakistan Army on Wednesday.
It happened twice as luck or many say fortune swung in his favour. First, he was not only very close but always in the good books of former Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf appointed the then Brigadier Raheel Sharif as his Military Secretary way back in 2002 to succeed Nadeem Taj, who ultimately retired as 3-Star General during last PPP rule.
The orders of his appointment as Military Secretary to General Musharraf were duly issued in the Army circles and he was very close to join his new assignment.
However, as insider put it some of his friends and those also close to Musharraf consulted and advised the foot-soldier or infantryman to take graduation course at Royal College of Defence Strategies (RCDS) in the United Kingdom as invitation to Pakistan Army was already there and being processed.
By a stroke of luck and fortune, Brig Raheel Sharif accepted the offer of going through the graduation course at RCDS, UK and it was the turning point in his bright career.
He graduated from RCDS and learnt a lot both the warfare and respect and honour in the military circles. Had he joined Musharraf as his Military Secretary, his career would have entered into a different way altogether plus the tag of Musharraf, now facing high treason charges.
The second time luck factor favoured Raheel Sharif is that the senior most 3-Star General Haroon Aslam was in the Military Operations Directorate as Director when General Musharraf staged coup, overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz on October 12, 1999. There were three directors in the MO Directorate at that time: Brigadier Haroon Sikandar Pasha (retired as Major General), Brigadier Athar Ali (retired as Lieutenant General – appointed as Defence Secretary and gone home after serving the period of his contract) and Brigadier Haroon Aslam (now superseded, though serving as 3-Star General as senior-most in the hierarchy).
Top circles say that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looked deep into the credentials of each and every one on the top of the seniority list and he finally picked Lt General Raheel Sharif as Army Chief material.
General Rashad Mahmood, who is also a SSG commando similar to General Musharraf, also served in the ISI as head of its counter-terrrorism division, might have lost favour of the prime minister because of his SSG link and intelligence background. Outgoing Army Chief General Kayani is the only Army Chief in the 66-year history of Pakistan Army who was elevated to this coveted office after having served as DG ISI.
Fond of hunting and swimming, General Raheel Sharif has the honour of commanding battalions along with Line of Control and Sialkot Infantry Brigade, Infantry Division and Gujranwala Corps. His record as commander impressed the prime minister, though General Sharif is a Ravian and his parents used to live in Lahore after having moved in the provincial capital from Kunjah, Gujrat – the home of Chaudhrys, arch political rivals of Sharifs.
Raheel Sharif being the youngest amongst three brothers and two sisters, has two sons and a daughter. The eldest son is a professional economist and the other son and daughter are still is the university.
Raheel Sharif’s father, former military office Mohammad Sharif belongs to Kunjah (Gujrat) and his mother belongs to Ladian, a place where Nishan-e-Haider Maj Aziz Bhatti Shaheed belongs. Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed was his uncle as brother-in-law of his mother.
His two elder brothers were Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed (Nishan-e-Haider) and Captain Mumtaz Sharif (Sbt) so he is well-regarded as hailing from a military family.