Saturday June 25, 2022

Four of 13 army chiefs were senior-most when appointed

November 27, 2016

ISLAMABAD: As Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is all set to appoint a new chief of army staff and the country is abuzz with rumors and possibilities of top generals getting the prized post, only four times in the history of Pakistan(out of the 13 Pakistani army chiefs), the senior most general was made the army chief rest all were not the senior most at the time of their elevation as head of the army.

Leaving aside the two British generals who headed Pakistan army after the partition; General Tikka Khan, General Aslam Baig, General Jahangir Karamat and General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani were the four generals who did not supersede any officer. General Aslam Baig became COAS as a result of plane crash of General Zia while General Kayani succeeded General Musharraf. 

In the past 69 years, there have been 15 Army Chiefs of whom first two were British. On August 14, 1947 Lt Gen Sir Frank Messervy was appointed Commander–in-Chief (C-in-C) Pakistan Army. Messervy was succeeded by Gen Sir Douglas Gracey on February 10, 1948. He served as C-in-C till January 17, 1951. 

Gen Muhammad Ayub Khan succeeded Gracey as the first native C-in-C of Pakistan Army. He superseded Maj Gen Akbar Khan, Maj Gen NAM Raza on his elevation: Ayub Khan removed Governor General Iskandar Mirza and imposed Martial Law in the country. Ayub appointed Gen Muhammad Musa on October 27, 1958 as his C-in-C, who superseded Maj Gen Sher Ali Khan Pataudi, Maj Gen Latif Khan and Maj Gen Adam Khan. 

Gen Muhammad Yahya Khan was designated as Deputy C-in-C in March 1966. He later became the C-in-C in June 1966. He superseded Lt Gen Altaf Qadir and Lt Gen Bakhtiar Rana. 

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto elevated General Gul Hassan to the post of COAS on December 20, 1971.

He superseded Lt Gen Tikka Khan but the latter continued to serve under him. Within three months, Gul Hassan was removed on March 2, 1972 and replaced by Gen Tikka Khan on March 3, 1972. He was the only superseded Lt Gen to become Army Chief in our history. He was promoted full General on seniority and did not supersede any officer. General Tikka served as COAS from March 3, 1972 to March 1, 1976.

Prime Minister Bhutto had appointed General Ziaul Haq as COAS by superseding seven Lieutenant generals on March 1, 1976. Those superseded were Lt Gen Muhammad Shariff, Lt Gen Muhammad Akbar Khan, Lt Gen Aftab Ahmed Khan, Lt Gen Azmat Baksh Awan, Lt Gen Agha Ibrahim Akram, Lt Gen Abdul Majeed Malik and Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan. 

General Zia who toppled the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and had imposed Martial Law in 1977 had elevated General Mirza Aslam Baig as Vice Chief of Army Staff in March 1987. General Mirza Aslam Baig became COAS on August 17, 1988 after death of General Zia in a plane crash in Bahawalpur. He did not supersede anyone. 

Few months before retirement date of General Mirza Aslam Baig on June 11, 1991, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recommended name of General Asif Nawaz Janjua as the next army chief. Senior most Lieutenant General at that time General Shamim Alam Khan was made Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. General Asif Nawaz was at number two in the seniority of Lieutenant generals. 

After sudden death of General Asif Nawaz in January 1993, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed General Abdul Wahid Kakar COAS on January 12, 1993. General Kakar held office till January 12, 1996. Four senior lieutenant generals Lt Gen Rehm Dil Bhatti, Lt Gen Mohammad Ashraf, Lt Gen Farrakh Khan and Lt Gen Arif Bangash were superseded while appointing General Kakar as COAS.

At the time of retirement of General Kakar, General Jehangir Karamat was senior most lieutenant of Pakistan and the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto appointed him as COAS on January 12, 1996. He continued to serve on this position till October 7, 1998 when he had to relinquish his office because of his differences with the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif some three months before the end of his term.

After resignation of General Karamat, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as the COAS on October 6, 1998. Nawaz Sharif had preferred Musharraf over his seniors Lt Gen Ali Quli Khan and Lt Gen Khalid Nawaz Khan. Musharraf had toppled the democratic government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 and imposed Martial Law. Musharraf was not ready to quit office of COAS but he was forced to do so by the massive lawyers’ movement. He handed over the command of army to General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani on November 28, 2007. General Kayani was made vice Chief of Army Staff a few months ago and had superseded only Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai but the later was already serving on extension. General Kayani was the only COAS in Pak Army history who got an extension from a democratic government. General Ziaul Haq and General Musharraf had given extensions to themselves. General Kayani was given one term extension by the then Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in 2010. General Kayani retired on November 28, 2013. General Kayani and General Ziauddin Butt were only generals of Pak Army who were made army chiefs after serving as DG-ISI. General Butt however was not allowed to continue after October 12, 1999 Martial Law imposed by General Musharraf.

At the time of retirement of General Kayani in November 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had dropped senior most lieutenant General Haroon, appointed second senior most lieutenant general Rashad Mehmood as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and appointed third senior most Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif as new COAS who assumed his office on November 29, 2013.