ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday chose infantryman General Raheel Sharif as Pakistan’s 15th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and General Rashad Mahmood as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
After keeping the nation anxiously waiting for the big news till two days before Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani retires, the president and supreme commander of armed forces, Mamnoon Hussain promoted and appointed General Rashad Mahmood as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and General Raheel Sharif as Chief of the Army Staff on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
In the process of General Sharif’s appointment as army chief, the most senior three-star General Haroon Aslam stands superseded, and according to military traditions, he would retire from the army. However, in case the new army chief requests him to continue, as happened in the past, Lt Gen Haroon Aslam may decide to complete his tenure. However, it is purely up to him to decide either way.
The appointment of Lt Gen Raheel Sharif, third on the seniority list of three-star generals, as army chief after his promotion as a four-star general was termed as the best choice with a futuristic strategic outlook.
“General Raheel Sharif has served on command positions throughout his career,” said one of his former colleagues, “he is known as a clean, upright and true professional soldier.” He belongs to the infantry and is a foot soldier, and the infantry is the backbone of a modern army.
Appointing General Raheel Sharif as army chief and General Rashad Mahmood as Chairman JCSC mark the 13th and 14th appointments of top servicemen — four-star generals, air chief marshals, and chiefs of navy staff — that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made.
Coincidently, it is the fifth time Nawaz Sharif as prime minister of Pakistan has appointed an army chief. Previously, General Asif Nawaz Janjua (top on the seniority list) was designated COAS in August 1991 and took over as a four-star on 9th November 1991.
General Waheed Kakar (third on the seniority list) was appointed COAS upon the demise of General Asif Nawaz on 12 January 1993. General Pervez Musharraf (also third on the seniority list) was made COAS on 7th October 1998. General Ziauddin Butt, a COAS was appointed by Nawaz Sharif on 12th October 1999, the day he was removed by General Musharraf as a result of a coup.
The change of the army command ceremony will be held on November 29 (Friday) in a stadium located in front of the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi for which all arrangements have been put in place.
Outgoing Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani would hand over the command (malaca) stick as a mark of change of the command of the Pakistan Army to the new army chief General Raheel Sharif with a guard of honour in its full glory.
A Ravian who hails from a family with a martial background, General Sharif belongs to the Infantry and had the honour of going through all the command positions from a battalion to corps. He is now army chief for the next three years, a period when Pakistan will be facing tough challenges both on the western and eastern borders as well as internal militancy and growing terrorism.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose General Sharif purely on merit and through a process of looking into the credentials of all the senior three-star generals. General Sharif has been appointed army chief as he has huge experience on command positions and is the only one in the present top military hierarchy who is a graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS), United Kingdom.
General Sharif remained Chief of Staff to the then Corps Commander Gujranwala and Quetta Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, now a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Lt Gen (retd) Qadir Baloch has reportedly boasted almost one year back about the chances of Raheel Sharif as future army chief; his dream has now come true.
Born in Quetta in 1956 to Major and Mrs Muhammad Sharif, the family hails from Gujrat’s famous Kunjah village. They moved and settled in Lahore where young Raheel Sharif studied in Garrison School. He is an alumnus of the Government College Lahore (known as a Ravian) before the commissioned in the Pakistan Army on October 1976 but not before passing the 54th PML Long Course in the illustrious Pakistan Military Academy. He was commissioned in the battle-hardened and renowned 6th Battalion of The Frontier Force Regiment in which his elder brother had embraced Shahadat.
Raheel Sharif is the youngest in the family of Major Mohammad Sharif. His elder brother had been a recipient of the highest military honour, the Nishan-e-Haider. Presently serving as Inspector-General Training and Evaluation, he is known amongst his colleagues as cool, sober and one who works with precision and always goes by merit whatever comes in his way.
Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood, who was second on the seniority list of three-star generals, has a vast experience and belongs to same class as General Kayani and is a well-known member of military college culture. He served in the ISI and in fact established counter-terrorism division when General Kayani was heading the premier intelligence agency.
Following are the bio datas of the two elevated and generals:
Army Chief-designate General Raheel Sharif, HI (Military)
Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif, Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military) was born in Quetta on 16 June 1956 to Major and Mrs Muhammad Sharif. He is the younger brother of Major Shabir Sharif, NH, SJ and Capt Mumtaz Sharif, Sbt. He is an alumnus of Govt College Lahore, and the Pakistan Military Academy from where he passed the 54th PMA Long Course. He was commissioned in Oct 1976 in the battle-hardened and renowned 6th Battalion of The Frontier Force Regiment in which his elder brother had embraced Shahadat.
As a young officer, he performed his duties in Gilgit in an Infantry Brigade and also served as Adjutant of the Pakistan Military Academy. He did a Company Commander’s Course from Germany and subsequently served in the prestigious School of Infantry and Tactics as an instructor. He attended the Command and Staff College Canada, graduating with distinction.
The officer carries with him a vast experience of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. He served as the Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade and has commanded two infantry units i.e. 6 Frontier Force Regiment at Kashmir along LOC and 26 Frontier Force Regiment along the Sialkot Border. He remained on the faculty of the Command and Staff College, Quetta and attended Armed Forces War Course at National Defence University, Islamabad in 1998. As a brigadier, he has commanded two Infantry Brigades, including an Independent Infantry Brigade Group. The general has had the honour of being the Chief of Staff of two Corps, i.e. 30 Corps and 12 Corps. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Defence Studies, United Kingdom.
He has been the General Officer Commanding of an Infantry Division and the Commandant of the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy. As a lieutenant general, he served as Corps Commander 30 Corps for two years before taking over as Inspector General Training and Evaluation in which capacity he oversaw the training of Pakistan Army. His stewardship resulted in fructification of Pakistan Army’s operational thought and doctrinal response to the much vaunted Cold Start doctrine of the Indian Army. The general is married and has two sons and a daughter. He is an avid reader and enjoys hunting and swimming.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee-designate General Rashad Mahmood
Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmood, HI (M) was commissioned in May 1975 in the Baloch Regiment. He has attended the Company Commander Course from France and is a graduate of the Command & Staff College Canada, National Defence College, Islamabad. The General Officer has varied experience of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. His major appointments include Platoon Commander, Pakistan Military Academy, Brigade Major Infantry Brigade, Instructor at the Command & Staff College and National Defence College. He has remained Chief of Staff Bahawalpur Corps and Military Secretary to the President. The General Officer has commanded two Infantry Battalions, two Infantry Brigades and the United Nations contingent at Congo, Infantry Division at Jhelum, Director General at the Inter Service Intelligence Directorate, Islamabad and Commander Lahore Corps. After commanding the corps, he took over as Chief of General Staff in January 2013. The General Officer has been conferred with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military).