THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD, 10th OCTOBER 2013:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain on Wednesday discussed in detail the names of the new chief of the army staff (COAS) and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC.)
According to sources, the two names that have attracted most attention so far are Lieutenant General Haroon Aslam for the office of CJCSC and Lieutenant General Rashid Mahmood for COAS.
They told The Express Tribune that the premier and president agreed that Lt Gen Aslam and Lt Gen Mahmood are strong candidates for filling the posts following the retirement of General Wynne and General Kayani on October 8 and November 29, respectively. The sources added that the president and prime minister also discussed the possibility of appointing the naval chief as the CJCSC.
Once the discussions are over, the president will approve the summary for the appointments of COAS and CJCSC, after which an announcement will be made.
The two observed that the appointment of the COAS and CJCSC is a constitutional responsibility, for which all stakeholders will be consulted and key party leaders will be taken into confidence.
On Monday, the prime minister in a statement had said that the appointments of the COAS and CJCSC will be announced simultaneously to clear any rumours.
On Wednesday, the information minister said that the government had decided to make major appointments on the basis of merit and that the criteria of appointments should be both seniority and aptitude.
The appointment of the next army chief has gained extensive attention in view of past difficulties faced by civilian governments in appointing persons to the top military post.
One of the major contenders for the post of CJCSC, Lt Gen Aslam, will be the senior-most general once Gen Kayani completes his tenure. Lt Gen Aslam, who currently holds the post of Chief of Logistics Staff, has served as Director Military Operations, commanded the Elite Force Division (Special Services Group) and has been the Corps Commander of Bahawalpur. He also led the successful anti-militancy operation in Swat in 2009.