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November 22, 2016
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Goodbye Gen Raheel, who’s next?

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November 22, 2016

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COAS pays farewell visits to Lahore, Gujranwala; to hand over army’s command to new chief on Nov 29; new CJCSC will also take command on same day; Gen Raheel says he is proud of leading the best army; no one can dare cast an evil eye on Pakistan; accomplishment of peace, stability were no ordinary tasks; our sacrifices helped us achieve success

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Monday began farewell visits starting from the Lahore Garrison, thus burying speculations about an extension in his illustrious three-year tenure which saw the successful Zarb-e-Azb Operation in North Waziristan. He will hand over the command of Pakistan Army to the new army chief on Nov 29.

“Operation Zarb-e-Azb has resulted into a more secure and stable Pakistan with a sense of greater hope and direction,” General Raheel Sharif said, while addressing a huge gathering of soldiers of army and Rangers at the Lahore Garrison.

The army chief talked about accomplishment of peace and stability, saying these were no ordinary tasks. “Our sacrifices and joint national resolve helped us in offsetting all odds against the country,” General Sharif said.

He emphasised that they were fully prepared to respond to any challenge and no one could dare cast an evil eye on Pakistan. He said the Pakistani people are the most resilient and brave in the world who have always persevered in adverse conditions. He urged the troops to follow the norms of their rich military tradition with even greater vigour and continue serving their people with utmost dedication, resilience and greater sense ofGeneral Raheel said that he was proud of leading the best army of the world.

On the second leg of his farewell visits, the COAS arrived in Gujranwala and addressed officers and troops of Mangla and Gujranwala Corps.

In his farewell address, General Raheel paid rich tributes to the professionalism, dedication and sacrifices of troops while defending motherland at Line of Control and Working Boundary. The COAS also appreciated the Mangla Corps for successfully undertaking the task of capacity building and imparting anti-terrorists training to troops of the three services and law enforcement agencies.

Lt Gen Umer Farooq Durrani, Commander 1 Corps and Lt Gen Ikramul Haque, Commander 30 Corps received the Army Chief at the venue.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJSC) General Rashad Mahmood also held farewell meetings with the Naval Chief Admiral Zakaullah and the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman. His successor will also take command same day – Nov 29.

The start of farewell visits by the COAS and CJCSC, however, has kicked off a new debate for next few days as to who would be successors of the two four-star generals, both retiring on November 29.

The position of CJCSC is ceremonial but it is senior to the slot of the COAS. In the past, this slot also belonged to Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force.

Top on the seniority list is Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat followed by Corps Commander Multan Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed.

There are two other three-star generals between Lt-Gen Zubair and Lt-Gen Ishfaq. They are: Chairman Heavy Industries Complex Taxila Lt-Gen Syed Wajid Hussain and Director General Joint Staff Lt-Gen Najibullah Khan, but they have not commanded a corps.

Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat hails from the artillery and is senior most in the list. As a three-star general, he was previously posted as Director General of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD).

During his tenure as a major general, he was General Officer Commanding (GOC) Sialkot and later headed the Staff Duties (SD) Directorate.

Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed before taking over command of the strike corps was appointed as Chief of General Staff by General Raheel Sharif after assuming prestigious slot of the COAS.

As Major General, General Ishfaq who led Swat operation as General Officer Commander enjoys experience of operating in the conflict zone and later as DG Military Operations. He was also Chief of Staff of strike Corps Mangla as brigadier. General Ishfaq completed Royal Military Academy Camberley, the UK, and was an outstanding officer with exceptional grades.

Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday is now Commander Bahawalpur corps and was previously president of the National Defence University in Islamabad. He served as GOC Swat during the operation there. In 2011, he was injured by sniper fire on his helicopter by militants over the mountainous terrain of Swat. He also served at National Defence University (NDU), first as commandant and chief instructor, and then as president.

Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is currently serving at the GHQ as Inspector General of Training and Evaluation. He had also commanded the 10 Corps. As a Major General, he led the Force Command Northern Areas.

Lt-Gen Maqsood, although senior amongst all three-start generals but he is already on extension and as such would not be considered for promotion.

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