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Archive for category Pakistan Army

IHS Jane’s 360 DSA 2016: Pakistan bullish on JF-17 sales By Richard D Fisher Jr, Kuala Lumpur – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

A Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder at the 2015 Paris Air Show. Source: IHS/Patrick Allen

Despite a high-profile reversal for the JF-17 fighter in Malaysia last December, officials from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) attending the Defence Services Asia (DSA) 2016 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur remain optimistic about regional sales and offered details about the fighter co-developed with China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
In December 2015 Malaysia’s high commissioner to Pakistan said Malaysia was considering purchasing the JF-17 and might make a decision “very soon”. Malaysia’s defense minister denied this the following day.

Nevertheless, PAC officials attending DSA remain optimistic about a future sale to Malaysia. Myanmar has been widely reported as the first JF-17 customer.

Indian Propaganda After Failure of LCA

PAC officials also countered recent negative reports about the JF-17 in Western media. They denied a JF-17 had broken up in flight due to faulty wing design, as had been reported earlier this year. According to press reports, India recently advanced criticism of the JF-17 to lobby against the JF-17’s sale to Sri Lanka.

Regarding future JF-17 development, on multiple occasions Pakistani officials have affirmed their commitment to the 8.7-ton-thrust Klimov RD-93 turbofan. However, officials speaking to IHS Jane’s at DSA 2016 said that for the goal of advancing aircraft performance, they were open to considering China’s 9-ton-thrust WS-13 or the 9.4-ton-thrust Klimov RD-33MK.

Russian industry sources at DSA 2016 noted that the WS-13 remains at an early stage of development and has an estimated service life of 2,000 hours compared with 4,000 hours for the RD-33MK.

PAC officials also confirmed that the new JF-17 refuelling probe design, recently seen in China, will be the configuration for the JF-17. These officials also noted that Pakistan has an anti-ship variant of the new China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC)-developed hypersonic CM-400 air-to-surface missile. They said a twin-seat JF-17 would begin test flights in late 2016 or early 2017.

Courtesy: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

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Lt Gen Tariq Khan’s Superb Riposte to Professional Ranter Javaid Hashmi: A Nawaz Sharif’s Mian Mithu & Mole

From Lt Gen Tariq Khan:

Of late, a politician by the name of Javed Hashmi has taken it upon himself to accuse me of planning some sort of a coup in my time and day. He has been saying this in the past as well and I usually ignored his childish tirades on the grounds that having suffered a stroke he is probably mentally challenged and knows not what he says. His age was another factor. But his diatribe continues and even worse than before. Had it just been my person, I would allow this to fade away as most nonsense does but this involves a whole institution, belittles its leadership and defames it in the eyes of the people for no reason and as such needs a response. I have already asked the authorities concerned to deal with it officially and they have confirmed that they would.
It would suffice to state that a man involved in the Mehran Scandal and jailed for treason earlier in a similar case of defaming the Army through false allegations is standing true to habit and his personal character. Being of dubious moral standing he is passing judgment based on his own low standards. I would like to inform all that I do not know this man nor wish to know him in the future. I have never known any politician for that matter nor discussed anything with anyone in politics. Never visited a politicians house nor invited any to mine. I have never attended any celebration, ceremony, marriage or funeral with politicians in attendance. This is not because I think of politicians any lesser than myself but simply because my life, its conduct, and its meaning never needed me to engage with politicians. As such these stories that Javed Hashmi is coming up with are a figment of his own imagination and I am surprised that his mental handicap is being exploited by the media. It is an obvious case of downright false hood, childish accusations and manufactured narratives fed to a retard with intent to defame the Army. If this gentleman is of sound mental health then his accusations make him a liar lacking in self-respect. I would request for a government level inquiry into this matter to put this fellow’s rubbish to rest.
Please share this so that all know how Army bashing is done at the behest of some unscrupulous scoundrels.

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Duty on Eid-A Pakistani Soldier’s Story! BY Fahad Malik

Duty on Eid-A Pakistani Soldier’s story!







Fahad Malik










Everyone is preparing for Eid. Eid-ul-Azha is now very close. Muslims all around the world are gathering to Makkah, for their Hajj, those who are selected by God, to visit his home. And those who were away and those who were not invited to Makkah, all are planning to visit their families, and go back to their homes. But the luxury of spending their Eids with families is for all except Us! Yes, I am a soldier who is deployed at NWA in ZarbEAzb, and this is going to be my second Eid without my family and away from home.

                  I am married, Happily married indeed, and now we have a 2 year old son, though I didn’t see him from last 6 months. Married, two years ago, and I had just two Eids with my family. Two with Family, and two without family. Whenever, it is such an occasion, and I am not home, I just spend my day in reminding myself those days, those occasions I spent with my family in the comfort of my home. Kitchen was the favorite place for me, where my wife and my mother were busy in preparing Haleem, Kheer, and Kabab’s, Tikka’s in case of Bari Eid.

                  Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated in remembrance of the great sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), but with the progression of time, the essence of that sacrifice seems to have gotten lost. Yes, we forgot what Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi was, but right now, keeping the debate of Qurabani-becoming-fashion aside, I am talking about the Sacrifices, we have forgotten. Yes, The sacrifice of staying away from your own family to keep the rest of the country safe. The sacrifice of staying in camouflage all the day, when the rest of the country is busy in wearing new dresses. The sacrifice of bearing hundreds of bullets on your chest, when the rest of the country is busy in eating chest pieces? Those who are sitting on borders, those like me who are sitting in the hard areas, in the operating areas, on the Eid days, why do people forget them? Why not a single word about them, who postpone their Eid Leaves just to stay on duty?

                  Neither your politicians, nor your parliamentarians, sacrifice their sleep for your safety. It’s a soldier, who stays awake, to let you sleep peacefully. It’s a soldier, who shows selfless duty on these national “holidays”, just to make your holiday safe! When I was at PMA, my drill sergeant taught me, that there is not a single holiday for a soldier. I always thought that he is joking. But now, when I am here in the open sun, where we have terrorists around, now I believe that there is literally not a single holiday for a soldier. There are hundreds of Us, who are here in ZarbEAzb, and on Line of control, and on borders, but no one remembers them. Those who risk their lives in the treacherous mountains away from their families, they are the unsung heroes! This Eid, do remember them!

-Fahad Malik

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Afghan endgame meshed in uncertainties

Afghan endgame meshed in uncertainties

Asif Haroon Raja

Almost thirteen years ago, the US led coalition forces started raining tons of molten from the air on October 7, 2001 on sovereign and peaceful Afghanistan. Its sin was that the ruling regime had allegedly sheltered the mastermind of 9/11 Osama bin Laden and had the temerity to refuse to hand him over without providing proof of his complicity in the crime. No Afghan was involved in the attacks on World Trade Centre and Pentagon. images-39Daisy cutters, cruise missiles, cluster bombs and other lethal ordnance were used abundantly to break the will of the Taliban fighters. Ground operation spearheaded by Indian-trained Northern Alliance was backed by carpet air/artillery bombing, tank fire and gunship helicopters.

While Tony Blair was the most vociferous supporter of war, Pakistan was coerced to ditch the Taliban and support the invasion. Month long air and ground bombing devastated the country. In order to save the country and its people from further ruination, ruling Taliban regime under Mullah Omar took a wise decision to carry out a tactical withdrawal and deal with the invaders at an opportune time. The calculated withdrawal was however trumpeted by the invaders as a complete victory.

In order to form a government of its choice in Kabul under string-puppet Hamid Karzai, the US doled out $1.2 billion to win over the loyalties of war criminals and warlords including ruthless Gen Rashid Dostum. The US kept pumping billions of dollars on propaganda war to demonize the Taliban, to sell its brand of democracy and constitution, win over the confidence of Afghans through development works, make the Karzai led regime functional and to train and equip non-Pashtun heavy ANSF, which could assist the ISAF in combating Taliban/al-Qaeda threat. Colossal amount was also spent to pay 80,000 security contractors and for the covert war against Pakistan.

In short, rather than taking Afghan Pashtuns on board as suggested by Pakistan, all possible means were employed to bring the resistance forces comprising Pashtuns down on their knees. This discriminatory act impelled overwhelming majority of Pashtuns residing on both sides of the Durand Line to gravitate towards the Taliban. Opening of another war front in Iraq in 2003 despite the international outcry was a big mistake. It gave a godsend opportunity to the Taliban to return to their strongholds in eastern and southern Afghanistan and start the guerrilla war.

When all efforts failed and the Taliban kept gaining strength despite all the odds against them, the US picked up Pakistan as a convenient scapegoat and held it squarely responsible for all its failings. Karzai lent strength to the indo-US propaganda war and blamed Pakistan that it was in league with the Taliban. Trusting India and distrusting Pakistan, which had helped the US winning the first Afghan war, was another blunder made by USA. George Bush kept wholly relying on US military prowess and didn’t pay any head to Pakistan’s advice of complimenting military prong with political prong.   

Once the initiative was lost by the US led occupation force in Afghanistan in September 2009 as a consequence to military debacles in Helmand and Nuristan despite the two troop surges, hurriedly vacating forward posts in eastern and southern Afghanistan, bunkering the troops in fortified military bases and restricting the war effort to airpower only, the US never made any worthwhile efforts to recover the 65% territory it lost and to regain its upper edge. Thereon it was a downhill journey. Replacement of Gen Stanley McChrystal with Gen David Petraeus in 2010 and subsequent changes made no difference. Instead of salvaging the situation, top commanders got involved in sex scandals. Fatal casualty and injury rates kept multiplying and surge in militant attacks kept mounting all over the country.

The US/British trained non-Pashtun heavy ANSF could not match the grit of the Taliban hell-bent to push out the occupying forces, topple US installed unpopular, inefficient and corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai and to regain power. In the backdrop of fast deteriorating security situation and having understood that it was impossible to win the war, Obama took the hard decision in December 2010 to bid farewell to Afghanistan by December 2014 and forgo the high-flying dreams he and his predecessor had nurtured. He took this decision in spite of serious reservations of the US military, which egoistically insisted that it had the will and capacity to turn sure defeat into victory.

In order to show to the world that the US military had not lost heart, Gen Petraeus planned a major offensive in Kandahar in April 2011 but kept postponing it on the plea that until Pak Army cleared North Waziristan of the presence of Haqqani network (HN) and al-Qaeda, it will not be possible for him to undertake the risk. Pakistan refrained because of its multiple compulsions. To punish Pakistan for not ceding to its demand, operation ‘Get Osama’ was executed in May 2011, followed by activation of western border with the help of runaway Fazlullah.

Spectacular attacks by Taliban on most sensitive targets inside Kabul in September 2011 shook the security apparatus in Afghanistan and in sheer frustration Admiral Mike Mullen put the blame on Pakistan saying HN was the ‘veritable’ arm of ISI. In revenge, NATO launched a brutal attack on Salala Post in November 2011 forcing Pakistan to suspend military ties with Washington, close Shamsi airbase and block NATO supply routes. Worsening ties with Pakistan made the drawdown cumbersome. 

The US woes kept increasing in the following years despite restoration of ties with Pakistan and opening of supply lines in July 2012. While secret parleys between the US and Taliban for a possible political settlement stalled because of bungling of the US over prisoner swap deal in 2012, the US military was confronted with other menaces of in-house green-over-blue attacks, surge in suicide cases and PTSD cases. Waning economy and home pressure to end the futile war were other worrisome reasons to ‘turn the page’ on America’s longest war initiated by George W. Bush led neo-cons. Karzai after serving US interests faithfully became irksome and started creating trouble for the US.

2014 has proved more calamitous for the US. The Taliban have gained ascendency over 80% of Afghan territory and are so far not in any mood to negotiate a political settlement with the US despite the successful prisoner swap over on June 1, 2014. Presidential election on which the US had pinned lot of hopes has also gone awry owing to Abdullah Abdullah’s allegation that Karzai was fraudulently trying to make Ashraf Ghani win the race. Offensive launched by the Taliban in Helmand on June 19 has posed a serious challenge to the ANA. It has so far not been able to evict 800 attackers holding on to Barekzai and Bostanzai in Sangin District. Further reinforcements in far-flung Helmand will render Kabul vulnerable to HN attacks.

Although the longest war in the US history is at last winding up, endgame of Afghan venture is meshed in uncertainties. Ambitious dreams of the imperialist powers lay in tatters since nothing has proceeded in accordance with the chalked out plan and laid down objectives. While the Soviet forces managed to skip out of Afghanistan under the umbrella of Geneva Accord, no arrangement has so far been made to ensure smooth and safe exit of ISAF troops. Of the 150,000 ISAF troops, less than 33000 soldiers are now desperately looking forward to fly back home in one piece. 12000 soldiers forming part of residual force which is required to stay back till 2016 would be the unhappiest.   

Pakistan policy makers have no clue what shape Afghanistan will take in the aftermath of pullout of foreign troops in next six months. Many neighbors and distant neighbors of Afghanistan would like to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan. In this, India, Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan are likely contenders for space. Barring Pakistan, all other competitors particularly India and Iran have an edge because of their closeness with current Northern Alliance heavy regime. The US, Israel and western powers would also back India and Iran and bolster ANSF to prevent the Taliban from recapturing power.

On the other hand, although Pakistan has a soft corner for Taliban because of multiple reasons, there is no strategic relationship between the two. In the ensuing power struggle, civil war becomes a probability. If so, outside powers will fuel bloody internecine war in which Afghanistan and Pakistan would again be the biggest losers. Much talked of strategic grouping of India, Afghanistan and Iran backed by Israel and USA and development of alternative economic corridor linking Chahbahar with Central Asia are the emerging possibilities having serious ramifications for Pakistan.

The writer is a retired Brig/war veteran, defence analyst/columnist/historian, Director MEASAC Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan, member Executive Council PESS. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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Change of Guard

Change of Guard

Hamid Hussain

‘We cannot afford to confine Army appointments to persons who have excited no hostile comment in their careers …. This is a time to try men of force and vision and not to be exclusively confined to those who are judged thoroughly safe by conventional standards’.  Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Sir John Dill, Chief of Imperial General Staff, 1940

Pakistan army is a major player on national scene therefore change of command generates unusual interest both in the country as well as the outside world.  Two top positions are Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and Chief of Army Staff (COAS).  Theoretically, CJCSC is senior but practically this position is ceremonial and real power holder is COAS.  Main reason is that COAS controls the army with promotions and postings.  CJCSC can be selected from any of the three services but this post has been used to placate or reward some senior army officers, therefore for the last seventeen years this post is held by a senior army officer.  Last time when an air force or naval officer held the position of CJCSC was in 1997.  Current CJCSC General Khalid Shamim Wayen will be retiring on October 06, 2013 and COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on November 28, 2013. 


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be deciding about next appointment of COAS.  His two close civilian advisors are his younger brother and chief minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.  He consults with these two about all important issues.  On military matters, he gets limited input from few retired officers.  These include retired Lieutenant General Khwaja Ziauddin, retired Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir Baloch, retired Lieutenant General Abdul Qayyum and Brigadier Javed Malik (for brief profile of these officers see Appendix: I below). The role of these officers is very limited regarding advice about selection of new COAS.  Their relationship is that of an acquaintance and not close confidant. In my view, advice from his close civilian associates will carry more weight than any army officer.  In general, there is no culture of reading serious material or informed debate.  Civilian leadership including Nawaz Sharif is not known for reading or soliciting advice from informed individuals about critical issues.  I don’t think that country’s top ten decision makers have read a complete book in the last one year.  A small group around Nawaz Sharif tries to whisper in King’s ears and general style is more close to a sixteenth century princely state with sycophancy and intrigues of Byzantine proportions. 


In normal process, COAS is usually selected from top four or five senior officers.  Most of these officers are average, equal in qualifications and rotated through normal command, staff and instructional appointments at senior ranks.  My own assessment is that seventy percent are average officers and not very different from officers found in other armies.  Twenty percent are below average and able to pass through the promotion labyrinth due to special circumstances.  Ten percent are first rate and any army could be proud to have them among its ranks. Opinions of their colleagues, superiors, juniors, friends and family members are highly subjective in nature. 


Selection of army chief is essentially a political decision and in addition to qualifications, ability of the individual to work with government on important issues is considered.  COAS tenure is three years and in case of Pakistan many army chiefs got extensions to the detriment of the institution. I’ll review the tenure of General Kayani and his decision making process, challenges of the next three years for new chief and brief overview of career and my opinion about each potential candidate. 


General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was appointed by outgoing COAS General Pervez Mussharraf when he was forced to give up his post after nine years. Mussharraf’s choice was between Kayani and Lieutenant General (later General) Tariq Majeed.  Majeed was more assertive compared to Kayani who played more safely keeping his thoughts to himself.  Mussharraf may have felt Kayani will work with him better as Musharraf was to remain President after shedding his uniform.  Kayani became close to Musharraf when he was given the charge of investigating assassination attempts on Musharraf’s life.  Kayani was then commanding Rawalpindi based X Corps and his diligent work brought him close to Mussharraf and paved the way for his future rise. He was appointed Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (DGISI) where he served for three years.  In November 2007, he was appointed COAS. 


Kayani had the most difficult task for the first few months facing challenges on many fronts.  First and foremost, he gradually got control of the army easing out Mussharraf’s appointees and bringing his own team of confidants.  His second task was to move army away from civilian affairs and hands off policy for 2008 elections.  He managed a delicate balance of avoiding direct confrontation with Mussharraf while at the same time following his own independent course.  He didn’t bail out Mussharraf when later got into serious troubles and threatened with impeachment. However, Kayani worked behind the scene to make sure that Mussharraf was not humiliated.  A back ground deal managed a safe exit for Mussharraf in 2008 for a comfortable exile in London and Dubai (he recently came back despite repeated advice from army’s brass to stay put abroad and now facing court cases).  


Kayani’s second task was to reorient army to new challenges.  When Kayani took charge of the army, things were in disarray and morale was quite low as militants had taken the fight to the military and army suffered many reverses. Gradually, counterinsurgency methods were introduced in all training institutions and things improved.  Two decisions of keeping military away from direct interference and reorientation of army are credit to Kayani.  His major weakness is very slow decision making process.  Many of the decisions which he finally took were forced from pressure at various levels.  Pressure from junior officers deployed in forward areas forced Kayani to finally decide about some military operations against militants.  In addition, push from inner circle of Corps Commanders forced some other decisions. 


Some promotions and appointments to key positions were disastrous and resulted in lot of murmuring in the army.  Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha is an infantry officer with very good reputation.  He is a straight forward chap who could be very good commander of an infantry division but completely unsuited for the job of top spy.  His personality and temperament was not for the job of DGISI and the fall out was quite negative.  Kayani had a very favorable opinion about Pasha but never vigorously challenged his advice or actions.  Kayani and army got entangled in some controversies due to actions of Pasha.  Army had no love lost for Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Mr. Hussain Haqqani.  Pasha jumped on what was later known as Memo Gate scandal.  Pakistan army accused that Mr. Hussain Haqqani asked for U.S. help to thwart army’s attempt to subvert civilian leadership at the behest of then Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in the aftermath of U.S. raid that killed Osama Bin Ladin in Pakistan.  In another case, during visit to Washington, Kayani handed a report to White House titled Pakistani Perspective with lot of half baked theories currently in vogue at ISI that severely damaged Kayani’s own standing.  Kayani never challenged kidnap, torture, kill and dump policy of army’s intelligence operatives in Baluchistan.  Thanks to this policy, all segments of Baluch society are now thoroughly alienated.  The problem that started as disagreement on monetary benefits to few Baluch tribal leaders is now transformed into a nationalist movement.  ISI officers whose own offices were bombed by militants were promoted and in one case a two star under whose charge dozens of soldiers deserted was awarded with a third star.  In peacetime, these things may not count much but during the time of war such decisions eat the organization from inside and should be avoided at all costs.


Kayani’s attempts to create circumstances for his own extension of service severely undermined his credibility inside the army.  He gave extensions to some senior officers creating an impression that somehow extension is a norm rather than exception.  When his unprecedented three year extension was announced, it caused lot of resentment.  In the aftermath of the U.S. raid that killed Osama Bin Ladin, Kayani’s stock hit the lowest point.  Pasha and Kayani duo successfully diverted the attention when Pasha cursed Americans in a briefing to parliament with thunderous applaud from the audience.  They also turned their guns on President Zardari and Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Hussain Haqqani and vetted their anger by hanging poor Dr. Shakil Afridi (it was alleged that he tried to get blood samples from the residents of Bin Ladin compound for CIA) by his thumbs.  Government’s own credibility was so low due to utter incompetence and corruption that in comparison to civilian leaders, Kayani looked like an angel and he recovered quite quickly from these set backs.


There are already rumors that Kayani may be given a one year extension or sent as an ambassador.  Both options are bad and should be avoided.  Previous three year extension had much more negative impact on all areas and I can not see anything positive and fruit of another extension will also be bitter.  Senior army and police officers involved in operations against militants have been targeted and many have been killed.  In some cases, army sent officers involved in operations as ambassadors and some privately departed for Dubai after retirement.  This has severely undermined army’s reputation on the street.  Police officers now make fun of their army colleagues privately.  Sending Kayani as ambassador immediately after retirement will strengthen this impression as every one will rightly conclude that this is being done due to threat to his life.  Army should be able to provide security to its own former chief in his own country.  Many mid-level officers are concerned about their security and the least Kayani can do is to stay put for at least a year or two in the country.  Once things settled down and people forget then if he wants, he can go into the safety of a comfortable diplomatic sojourn.  


COAS is just one player on the scene and country is facing challenges on many fronts.  The challenges for new army chief for the next three years include;


–          Coordination with civilian leadership on three crucial issues of containing militancy, reorienting policy towards Afghanistan and continue to keep eastern border with India quite. 

–          Leading armed forces in a state of war providing clear mindset, strategic roadmap and operational guidance.  He will be responsible for promoting next line of officers and this is the most important task.

–          Taking lead, immediately halting kill and dump policy in Baluchistan and start reconciliation with Baluch nationalists.




Five Senior Most Lieutenant Generals in Order of Seniority are:

  1. Haroon Aslam

  2. Rashad Mahmud

  3. Raheel Sharif

  4. Tariq Khan

  5. Zaheerul Islam. 



Lieutenant General Haroon Aslam is from 52nd PMA course and commissioned in October 1975.  He is currently Chief of Logistics Staff (CLS) after commanding XXXI Corps based in Bahawalpur.  He spent good part of his career in Baluchistan where he first served as Chief of Staff (COS) of Southern command and later commanded an infantry division based in Quetta.  He commanded operations against militants in Swat when he was General Officer commanding (GOC) of Special Services Group (SSG).  He is an average officer with some experience of fight against militancy.  However, in my view, if selected he will not be better than Kayani.  It is possible that being senior most, he is appointed CJCSC as Nawaz Sharif in his manifesto stated that he will adhere to the principle of seniority. 


Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmud is also from 52nd PMA course and commissioned in October 1975.  He is currently serving as Chief of Staff (CGS) after a stint as Corps Commander of IV Corps based in Lahore.  He is Kayani’s preference as his successor.  He is also an average officer.  He was DAPS to army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg at the rank of Major under then Brigadier Khwaja Ziauddin who was Personal Secretary to Chief – PS (C). Later, at the rank of Brigadier, he served as Military Secretary (MS) to President Rafiq Tarar.  His general career pattern and service in staff positions suggests that if selected he will be more formal with no inclination for any new ideas.  In my view, if selected, he will be no better than Kayani.  Only positive thing is that he had served as Counter Terrorism (CT) Director at ISI.  Some see this as an asset while for others this is a liability in view of relationship of ISI with some militant groups.  In my view, he would have been good enough for a peacetime army but not a wartime army.  He is a better candidate for CJCSC position rather than COAS. 


Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif is from 54th PMA course and commissioned in October 1976.  He is currently serving as Inspector General of Training & Evaluation (IGT&E) after commanding XXX Corps based in Gujranwala.  He is from a military family and his father, two brothers and a brother-in-law served in the army.  His brother Major Shabbir Sharif is one of the most decorated soldiers of Pakistan army who was killed in action in 1971 war.  Life of sons or brothers of heroes is a difficult one as expectations are very high.  Shabbir was General Pervez Mussharraf’s course mate.  Shabbir was everything that Mussharraf wanted to be.  When Mussharraf became COAS, he was instrumental in grooming Raheel for higher ranks.  In fact, Raheel was selected as personal secretary to army chief but Mussharraf later changed his mind and instead sent him to prestigious Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) course in London. Raheel was COS of XXX Gujranwala Corps under Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir Baloch.  In major reshuffle in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Qadir was sent to Quetta based XII Corps and he took Raheel with him as COS.  Mussharraf promoted him to major general rank and gave him prized postings as GOC of Lahore based 11th Infantry Division and Commandant of Military Academy at Kakul.  Raheel is a gentleman but almost all agree that for a peacetime army, it would make no difference but probably he is not suited to lead army engaged in a war.  I think Raheel himself knows it but Lieutenant General ® Abdul Qadir may whisper some good words about him in Sharif’s ears.


Lieutenant General Tariq Khan is from 55th PMA course and commissioned in April 1977.  He was best cadet winning coveted Sword of Honor.  He is currently commanding Mangla based I strike corps.  He is a Pushtun cavalry officer and his father was also a cavalry officer.  Tariq is from an aristocratic family and from the breed that didn’t join army for a secure job. After a brief stint of commanding an armored division, he first commanded infantry division in Waziristan and later as Inspector General Frontier Corps (IGFC) transformed a shattered FC.  In my view, he is the only officer among the contenders who has the qualifications for leading the army in the coming turbulent three years.  He is head and shoulders above his peers.  His straight forward and professional approach is sometimes construed as ‘hard headed’.  He has earned the nick name of ‘bulldozer’ for nothing.  I don’t know any other officer who has so much red ink in his file and that he made it so far is only due to his professional competence which even his detractors admit.  He was one of only two major generals highly regarded by Kayani for their professional competence (the other being Ahmad Shuja Pasha). 


Some label him as ‘rash’ and ‘pro-American’.  I can understand why some label him as ‘rash’.  Tariq is frank to the point of bluntness and not hesitant to speak his mind which invariably results in some friction.  He is a hard task master and in operations, he took decisions and many times clashed with his seniors while as Corps Commander he is training his formation hard.  In time of war, I’ll pick a so-called ‘rash’ officer anytime compared to someone who was busy opening restaurants and bakeries in cantonment or planning for expansion of defense housing schemes.  Some consider Tariq as ‘pro-American’ and I think this is due to his views about militancy.  He was one of the few senior officers who comprehended right from the beginning that menace of militancy is an existential threat to Pakistan.  It took several years for General Head Quarters (GHQ) to get this point.  He was at the forefront of many operations against militants.  He commanded an infantry division in South Waziristan and later as IGFC, he transformed a demoralized and broken formation into a credible fighting force.  U.S. provided funds for FC modernization and a handful of U.S. Special Forces soldiers provided limited training in some special skills. This very limited interaction is exaggerated due to lack of information.  In the last ten years, in addition to FC, Washington also supported intelligence agencies in technical matters as well as Pakistan’s Special Forces.  In view of deteriorating relations in the last two years, most of these relations have been terminated. 


In the last ten years, there has been increased military to military interaction between United States and Pakistan and a number of officers at different ranks visit U.S. for training and attend various seminars and conferences designed for senior officers.  Tariq has not done any course in United States nor attended any conference or seminar designed for senior officers.  His only American connection is stint as liaison officer at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa at the rank of Brigadier (since 2001, a small team of Pakistani officers commanded by a Brigadier rank officer serve as liaison with CENTCOM).  In fact, in 2008, Americans had serious misgivings about his approach in Bajuar.  American military had embraced the counterinsurgency by that time and with the zeal of a new convert, they viewed Tariq’s approach as faulty and viewed it as scorched earth policy.  In Bajuar, years of neglect had resulted in hardened militant positions especially tunnels that needed heavy fire power.  Later, some Americans were content that at lest some Pakistani officers were doing that was needed to clear the badlands.  It was confluence of interests and not any special affinity of Tariq for Americans or vice versa.  In fact a professional and proud officer will work on common interests but will assert himself when needed.  When Tariq was IGFC, cross border fire resulted in death of two FC soldiers.  He put his foot down and pushed GHQ for a tough line.  Washington was forced to agree to a joint inquiry at Bagram and admit mistake.  General David Petraeus was forced to publicly apologize to Pakistan.  I can not recall when the last time Washington agreed to a joint inquiry during war and offered a public apology.


Tariq is the kind of officer to lead army in war time.  If selected, he will be a significant improvement from Kayani.  However, one needs to be realistic that even selected, he does not have the key to success.  He can be an important lever to contain and push back militancy but a true national effort will be needed to bring country back on tracks.  Taking territory from militants is a vital first step but in such kind of war you can not shoot your way to victory.  At some point, de-radicalization and re-integration especially of foot soldiers will be an important part of the strategy and there is concern that an officer who has spent so much time in fighting may ignore this important aspect. 


Lieutenant General Zaheer ul Islam is also from 55th PMA course and commissioned in April 1977.  He is currently Director General (DG) of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).  He had an earlier stint as Director at ISI prior to his elevation to lieutenant general rank and posting as Corps Commander of Karachi based V Corps.  He is from a military family and belongs to the traditional military recruiting area of Salt Ranges near Rawalpindi. He is an average officer who has done usual command and staff stints but nothing exceptional in his professional career.  He is not likely in the race and even if selected, he will be about same as Kayani as far decision making is concerned.


No army including Pakistan army has any Rommel or Guderian among its ranks.  There is no ‘knight on white horse’ that will be the savior.  It is a hard road ahead for Pakistan and collective effort will be needed to steer the ship to calmer waters.  There will be difference of opinion but civil and military leaders should remember the basic fact that they are on the same team.  Criteria of selection of a senior officer for a peacetime army and an army at war should be different.  Simple fact is that Pakistan is at war and therefore officers with sound judgment, initiative, innovative ideas and very high professional standards should be considered for senior positions rather than docile and presumably ‘loyal’ who will not likely stir any discussion or debate at the decision making table. 










Appendix: I


Lieutenant General ® Khwaja Ziauddin: A mild mannered gentleman and average officer.  There was no history of any problem between Mussharraf and Ziauddin.  Ziauddin was from Engineers Corps and their paths have not crossed during their professional career.  In September 1998, when Mussharraf was appointed COAS, he immediately settled down in Armor Mess (General Jahangir Karamat was still in Army House) and started shuffling the senior brass. Ziauddin then serving as Adjutant General (AG) was with him.  Two days later, Sharif announced appointment of Ziauddin as Director General Inter Services Intelligence (DGISI) without consulting Mussharraf.  He was now viewed by Mussharraf as Nawaz Sharif’s man and thus kept out of the loop.  Some of Ziauddin’s subordinates directly reported to army chief.  After Kargil conflict, the gulf between Sharif and Mussharraf widened over a very short period of time.  In October 1999, Sharif appointed Ziauddin as army chief when Mussharraf was out of country setting the chain of events that ended in fourth army take over. (For details of 1999 coup see Hamid Hussain.  Count Down).  Ziauddin was arrested and sacked from the army. 


Lieutenant General ® Abdul Qadir Baloch:  He is an ethnic Baloch and one of the first Baloch to become lieutenant general.  He is an average officer not known for any professional excellence.  Once he reached Major General rank, it was probably thought appropriate to promote him one step further for public relations efforts to announce that a Baloch had reached such a high rank.  He is a gentleman but has some rough edges and can be a bit difficult in personal relations.  He had the confidence of General Mussharraf who sent him as Director General (DG) Rangers of Sindh.  After promotion to Lieutenant General rank, he was given the command of Gujranwala based XXX Corps.  In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with angry U.S. bull breathing down their necks forced military leadership to hastily change course.  There was some disagreement in the inner circle consisting of Corps Commanders and Principle Staff Officers (PSOs).  There was some concern on Mussharraf’s mind in view of a number of senior officers expressing doubts.  In October 2001, several senior officers were removed from key positions (Rawalpindi, Lahore, Quetta and Bahawalpur Corps commanders, DGISI and CGS were removed) and in this shuffle Qadir was moved from Gujranwala Corps to Quetta based XII Corps bordering Afghanistan.  The manner in which things were moved suggests that all was not well at the top.  Qadir was flown in an ISI plane to Quetta to immediately take charge.  After retirement, Qadir was appointed governor of Baluchistan province.  He developed differences with Mussharraf and resigned.  In an interview, Mussharraf passed some derogatory remarks about Qadir and this ticked him off.  He had no inclination for politics but after this incident, he contested 2008 elections as independent candidate and despite many hurdles finally entered the parliament.  He won his seat in 2013 elections, joined Nawaz Sharif’s faction of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and appointed Minister of State for Tribal and State Affairs.


Lieutenant General ® Abdul Qayyum: He is a gunner officer who served as military secretary to Benazir Bhutto when she was prime Minister.  He had an extended tenure with Benazir and served both at Brigadier and Major General rank which is unusual.  He was on personal friendly terms with General Pervez Mussharraf who promoted him to lieutenant general rank and appointed him Chairman of Pakistan Ordnance factory (POF).  After retirement, he was appointed Chairman of Pakistan Steel Mill.  He developed some differences with government on privatization matters and removed from his post.  In view of his past association with Benazir, he was probably hoping that if she returned to power, he may get the coveted governorship of Punjab.  After Benazir’s assassination, he drifted towards Nawaz Sharif.  He is a gentleman but an average officer not known for any professional excellence. 


Brigadier ® Javed Iqbal Malik: He was military secretary to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the time of 1999 coup. He sided with newly appointed army Chief Khwaja Ziauddin and he was the only officer who took some action.  In fact, Sharif had taken a pip from his shoulders and pinned on Ziauddin’s shoulders making him a four star general.  Javed quipped to Ziauddin that ‘Sir; you have been promoted General but I have been demoted to Colonel’.  When coup was set in motion by generals loyal to Mussharraf, a small team of soldiers under the command of Major Nisar went to television station and stopped the broadcast of appointment of new army chief.  Javed took an armed escort of elite police to television station to check what was going on.  Javed had a heated conversation with Major Nisar at television station control room and finally, Javed drew his handgun on Nisar, forcing him to order his men to disarm.  The army soldiers were locked in a room and the news of Mussharraf’s removal was re-broadcasted.  Later, a larger contingent of soldiers arrived at television station and pulled the plug.  After the coup, he was sacked from the army and went in exile to Saudi Arabia with Nawaz Sharif.




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