The current Pakistani Army chief General Raheel Sharif has begun his farewell tours across all the garrisons of the country given that he would retire on November 29. The onus is on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who has to decide on the candidate who will replace him, one of the most powerful positions in Pakistan that rivals that of the PM itself.
The name that is doing the rounds is that of Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, the Multan Corps Commander. This is because he is seen as the "man behind Gen Sharif's successes," Dawn reported. This is because Gen Sharif's campaign in North Waziristan was readied by Lt Gen Ishfaq, who was the director-general of military operations (DMGO) then.
Lt Gen Ishfaq was also part of the Swat operation as a major general and belongs to the Azad Kashmir Regiment, where elevating him could give Pakistan some brownie points in its Kashmir policy.
However, Lt Gen Zubair Hayat, who is the Pakistani Chief of General Staff, is the most senior and is also a potential candidate for the top job. Lt Gen Zubair too is said to be Gen Kayani's protege. Gen Zubair might be given charge of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), which will also be going vacant due to the retirement of Gen Rashad Mehmood, who is its current head.
Nevertheless, there are other three-starred officers who are probable candidates, it includes Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inspector General of Training and Evaluation.
It is interesting to note that Lt Gen Bajwa is considered a dark horse, who has commanded the 10 Corps responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC). He has experience in handling Kashmir affairs and has extensive involvement with Kashmir and northern areas. But more interestingly, he is "said to consider extremism a bigger threat for the country than India," the report noted.
Moreover, Lt Gen Bajwa had served alongside former Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh, as brigade commander, where the former was the division commander during his UN mission in Congo. Moreover, he is from infantry's Baloch Regiment, which has seen three generals that include Gen Yahya Khan and Gen Kayani.
There was talk about Gen Sharif getting an extension of being promoted to Field Marshal, but that has not happened.
It is believed that PM Sharif started consultations for the top position early 2016. PM Sharif will also be setting a record for getting to appoint the Army Chief for the fifth time. It is also likely that there might be an early announcement from the PM.
One of the things that will be taken into consideration while choosing the next chief is their views on India.