Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tie between Generals Tariq Majeed and Ashfaq Kiani to become Pakistan Army's next Chief

Watandost Commentary:

Picture: Lt. Gen. Tariq Majeed

As General Ehsan-ul-Haq, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, and General Ahsan Salim Hayat, Vice Chief of Army staff will be completing their 3-year tenures as 4 star generals and retiring in early October, military circles in Pakistan are speculating about the generals who are expected to fill in these slots. As per standard practice in Pakistan, tenure of a 4 star general is 3 years (irrespective of whether he is chief of the army or vice chief/CJCSC) and lieutenant generals hold office for 4 years.

Lt. Gen. Tariq Majeed is the favorite of General Pervez Musharraf for the post of Vice Chief of Army staff and possibly for the Chief of army staff if he retires "voluntarily" (which he is likely to after getting re-elected from the present assemblies). However. Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiani will be a more popular choice in the army. A brief profile of the two follows:

Lieutenant General Tariq Majeed, currently Corps Commander 10 corps (Rawalpindi)- the most important corps being nearest to army headquarters, recently led the Red Mosque operation. He is known to be a professional soldier and played a crucial role in 1999 when Musharraf took charge of the country in a coup (or counter-coup as he calls it). His loyalty to Musharraf is unquestionable. However, closeness to Musharraf can become a liability if Musharraf is ousted in any manner.

Picture: Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Kiani

Lieutenant General Ashfaq Kiani, currently Director General of the ISI was corps commander Rawalpindi before becoming the ISI chief in 2004. He is known in army for his competence and independent views. He also remained Director General Military Operations till 2003. He headed the successful investigations into the 2003-04 attempts on President Musharraf’s life earning his trust and gratitude.

Others important contenders include Chief of the General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant-General Salahuddin Satti, Vice Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Muhammad Yousaf, Lieutenant General Mohammad Sabir and Lieutenant General Syed Ather Ali.

New CJCSC, VCOAS after presidential poll
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir: The News, August 6, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The new Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS) will be appointed immediately after the election of the president next month.

This will facilitate the promotion of two lieutenant generals to the rank of four-star generals while seven major generals will also be elevated to the rank of the lieutenant general in the process.

The new CJCSC and VCOAS will be installed on October 8th. In case, President General Pervez Musharraf quits army rank, the COAS will be appointed instead of the VCOAS next month. The appointments will have significant importance with regard to the future planning and welfare of the armed forces.

The incumbent CJCSC General Ehsan-ul-Haq and VCOAS General Ehsan Salim Hayat are not interested in seeking extension in their terms. They have already initiated plans for the process for relinquishing their respective assignments through farewell meetings at various formations.

Three senior most three-star generals are being discussed for the promotion if seniority becomes the consideration for the elevation. They are Lt. General Khalid Ahmad Kidwai, Director General Strategic Plans Division (SPD), Lt. General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and Lt. General Tariq Majeed, Commander 10-Corps.

General Kidwai is looking after a sensitive assignment and he is senior by virtue of his two extensions. If he is considered for any of the two slots, it would be a departure from the traditions.

The president has not ruled our the principle of seniority so far in the case of service appointments and if he goes by the book, the choice would be Lt. General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani as the Chairman and Lt. General Tariq Majeed as the VCOAS.

Yet another discussion is also under way that the sitting CJSC is the fourth chairman in row from the Army. Previously, it was picked on the basis of rotation from the three services i.e. Army, Navy and the Air Force.

The sources indicated that the rotation system may be revived and the current naval chief Admiral Afzal Tahir may be considered for the slot because Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan enjoyed the two terms as the chairman on behalf of the Air Force in the 90s.

General Shamim Alam Khan, General Pervez Musharraf, General Aziz Khan and now General Ehsan-ul-Haq, all the four consecutive chairmen, were from the Army. Lt. General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani and Lt. General Tariq Majeed both are known as hard-line professional soldiers who do not believe in diverting from the book. They are from Baluch Regiment and had earlier headed the Military Intelligence (MI) in different times one after the other.

In case a new tradition is established and the President opts to depart from the tradition, Lt. General Muhammad Sabir, currently Military Secretary (MS) to the GHQ, could be considered for the rank of the Chairman and Lt. General Salahuddin Satti, the Chief of the Staff, could be the choice for the slot of VCOAS, the sources hinted.

Lt. General Satti played a vital role in the events of October 12, 1999 as the Commander of 111 Brigade. Lt. General Sabir hails from Artillery like President General Pervez Musharraf. Major General Nadeem Taj, Major General Javed Zia, Major General Nusrat Naeem, Major General Muhammad Saleem, Major General Khalid Ameer Jaffery, Major General Mohsin Kamal and Major General Muhammad Asghar are among the probables to get the promotion as three-star generals towards the end of the next month.

It has also been speculated that General Nadeem Taj, who is the commandant Military Academy Kakul these days, and previously head of the Military Intelligence and he was Military Secretary (MS) of President General Pervez Musharraf will be considered to become Corps Commander 10-Corps. He was MS to General Musharraf as the Army Chief and was also travelling in the plane on October 12, 1999 that was bringing them to Pakistan from Sri Lanka. General Nadeem Taj was Brigadier then.

Lt. General Shafaatullah Shah, Corps Commander, Lahore, is being tipped as the DG, ISI, and a newly promoted three-star general would be made Corps Commander Lahore in his place. The sources pointed out that three Army Corps will have new commanders during the last quarter of the year. The new commanders will also be announced with the change in CJCSC and VCOAS, the sources hinted.

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