THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD, 02nd OCTOBER 2013:
The stage has been set for changes in the military hierarchy as the defence ministry prepares a proposal for the appointment of a new chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), technically the highest ranking military officer among the three armed forces of Pakistan.
A defence ministry official privy to the development told The Express Tribune that a summary had been prepared for the appointment of a new CJCSC.
The formal proposal includes the names of Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, Lt General Haroon Aslam from Pakistan Army and Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt as potential candidates.
Speaking on condition of anonymity the official said the names were shortlisted based on seniority. Both Sandila and Butt are the senior-most officers in their respective forces while General Aslam will be the senior-most military officer in the army after the retirement of army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Meanwhile, rumours did the rounds in Islamabad that General Aslam could be appointed as the army chief if he is not picked for the slot of CJCSC. The new chairman will replace the current CJCSC General Khalid Shameem Wynne who is set to retire on October 8 after completing his three-year term.
The shortlisted names would be forwarded to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who would choose the next CJCSC followed by a formal announcement by the president.
The post of CJCSC was first created by the then prime minister, Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, in 1976. Since then, except for three occasions, the position has been occupied by army generals.
Admiral Mohammad Shariff, Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey and Air Marshal Farooq Feroz Khan were the only three officers from the navy and air force, respectively, who held this position.
A military official, requesting anonymity, said it was the prerogative of the prime minister to appoint a new CJCSC. However, considering the ground realities and strength of the army among the three forces, the CJCSC has to be from the army, he added.
Although, the CJCSC is principally the highest-ranking military officer among the armed forces, he does not have any authority over the combat forces. But he is responsible for coordination among the three armed forces.