The military high command in Pakistan has forwarded the dossiers of four main contenders for the post of army chief, once incumbent General Raheel Sharif superannuates at the end of this month. The dossiers have been forwarded to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to the London-based The Nation newspaper, the contenders for the post are Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Ramday, commander of XXXI Corps, who led a 2009 operation to drive the Pakistani Taliban militant movement from Swat Valley near the Afghan border, Lieutenant General Zubair Hayat, Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad, commanding officer in the eastern city of Multan, and Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who heads the army’s Training and Evaluation Wing.
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Lt. Gen. Ramday is considered among the front-runners, in part because his family has been associated with Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) party for many years. He is also seen by some security officials as being popular with General Sharif.
“He’s perhaps as liked by Raheel Sharif as he is by Nawaz Sharif,” said a senior security official based in Islamabad, who declining to be named.
However, neither the prime minister nor General Sharif has commented publicly on his chances of becoming the next Chief of Army Staff.
Lt. Gen. Hayat oversees intelligence and operational affairs at the General Headquarters. He has also headed the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is responsible for Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Lt. Gen. Ahmad has extensive experience with military operations, especially against Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency, and was previously the Director General Military Operations.
Meanwhile, according to The Nation, the United States has avoided comment on the issue, saying that it is for the Pakistan government to take.
General Raheel Sharif has said that he will step down when his tenure ends in November.