ISLAMABAD: Contrary to earlier reports that four lieutenant generals are in the running to claim the top two military spots – Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff it emerged on Friday that Gujranwala Corps Commander Lt-Gen Ikramul Haq is also in the running.
The Federal capital is abuzz and waiting anxiously for the much awaited announcement. There has been plenty of talk regarding who will claim the all important Army Chief slot, however most of these claims seem guess work at best as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has so far been tight lipped on the issue. If sources are to be believed even the Prime Minister’s close confidants who previously advised him on important matters, his brother Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan are not in the loop this time around.
Prime Minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister’s Advisor on National History and Literary Heritage Division, Irfan Siddiqui who is also accompanying him on his Turkmenistan visit and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar are now considered as three-key persons who the Prime Minister relies on for advice. Siddiqui’s presence in Turkmenistan could well mean that Prime Minister will consider or at least ask for his advice on the matter. There is indication that the Prime Minister will finalize the names once he returns from his visit to Turkmenistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that under the constitution, the Prime Minister has the discretionary power to appoint any eligible officer as the Chief of Army Staff.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday also confirmed that Lieutenant General Ikramul Haq is among the five candidates who were being deliberated upon by the government. The five officers in the running are Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat, Multan Corps Commander Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday, Inspector General Training and Evaluation Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Gujranwala Corps Commander Lt-Gen Ikramul Haq.