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Raheel Sharif appointed new Pak Army chief

Pakistan on Wednesday named Lt Gen Raheel Sharif, an infantry officer regarded as a moderate, as the new Army chief to succeed hawkish Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who retires on Friday after serving an extended tenure in the all-powerful post.

57-year-old Sharif, who comes from a family of soldiers and whose elder brother died in the 1971 war with India, was chosen by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to end several months of speculation.

Raheel SHarif
Lt Gen Raheel Sharif. Pic/AFP

Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood was named the new Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee.

Sharif held separate meetings with Gen Mahmood, Chief of General Staff, and Gen Sharif, Inspector General Training and Evaluation, here before approving their promotion to the crucial posts.

"On the advice of the Prime Minister and in pursuant to clause 3 of article of constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President and the supreme commander of the armed forces is pleased to approve the promotion and posting of the two generals, with effect from November 28," a top Pakistani official said.

Both the Generals superceded Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, currently Chief of Logistics Staff and the senior-most General after Kayani. He is scheduled to retire in April.

61-year-old Gen Kayani will hang his boots on Friday after being at the helm of the Army for six years. His elder brother Shabbir Sharif was killed in the 1971 war with India and is the recipient of the country's highest gallantry award Nishan-e-Haider.

The appointment of Sharif comes amid tensions on the border with India and Pakistan's fight with Taliban insurgency and increased violence in the country.

Pakistani analysts view Sharif, who will head the 600,000-strong Army, as a moderate who sees the militant threat inside Pakistan as just as important as the strategic tussle with India.

Gen Sharif is said to be a key player in developing new doctrines for COIN/CT, where the Infantry training manual has essentially been re-written under his watch to move the largest fighting arm and backbone of the Army from the traditional India-centric role to a more diversified counterinsurgency capacity.

"He is a good professional. He is a good soldier. I think he will pursue civilian government s policy on India provided there is reciprocity, Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood noted. 

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