Islamabad: Ending weeks of speculation, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday named Lt General Raheel Sharif to the powerful post of the Army chief, superceding the senior-most General.
Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood was named the new Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee.
Sharif held separate meetings with Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Mahmood and Inspector General Training and Evaluation Lt Gen Sharif in Islamabad before approving their promotion to the crucial posts.
"On the advice of the Prime Minister and in pursuant to clause 3 of article of constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President and the supreme commander of the armed forces is pleased to approve the promotion and posting of the two generals, with effect from November 28," a top Pakistani official told reporters.
Both the Generals, superceded Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, currently Chief of Logistics Staff and the senior-most General after Kayani. He is scheduled to retire in April.
Lt Gen. Sharif will replace 61-year-old Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who would hang his boots on Friday after being at the helm of the Army for six years.
Gen. Sharif comes from a military family and is the brother of Nishan-e-Haider medal recipient for valour, Shabbir Sharif, who was killed in the 1971 war with India.
Gen. Sharif is said to be a key player in developing new doctrines for COIN/CT, where the Infantry training manual has essentially been re-written under his watch to move the largest fighting arm and backbone of the Army from the traditional India-centric role to a more diversified counterinsurgency capacity.
He is said to enjoy close connections with former army chiefs and top brass as well as Lahore's political elite. He had served as the General Officer Commanding, Lahore as a Maj General. His appointment comes at a crucial time for Pakistan.
It comes ahead of the beginning of pullout of international forces from neighbouring war-torn Afghanistan and the negotiation between the Pakistani Taliban and the Nawaz government.
He will play a crucial in government's diplomatic parleys with India, the US, China and the Gulf states besides stabilising Balochistan.
Gen Mahmood, who has served in the ISI and enjoys good relation with the Nawaz family, is another key confidant of Kayani and is his Principal Staff Officer. He is seen as Kayani's second set of eyes.
Three Chief of General Staff - Aziz Khan, Tariq Majid and Khalid Shameem Wynn- made it to CJCSC. Outgoing army chief Kayani was hand-picked by former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf as the army chief in 2007.
He was given an unprecedented three-year extension by then premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2010.
The selection of the chief of the Pakistani army, often described as the state within the state, has not been an easy task for the civilian government and especially for the once bitten, twice shy Sharif. This is the fourth time Sharif has chosen an Army Chief.
He picked up Abdul Waheed Kakar as the Army chief in 1993 but the General soon ditched him and played a key role in Sharif's resignation. Kakar had superseded at least four senior generals.
In 1998, he hand-picked Pervez Musharraf to head the Army and he too had superseded at least two Generals.
Musharraf first plotted the Kargil misadventure derailing Sharif's India-Pakistan peace dialogue in 1999 and then engineered a coup against the Prime Minister in the same year.
Sharif selected Ziauddin Butt in October 1999 but he could not take over as the Army chief due to the coup by Musharraf....