Pakistan desperately needs General Raheel Sharif to continue as COAS

As the retirement of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is approaching closer, rumors have restarted circulating that General Raheel Sharif would continue to be in the uniform. In fact, these rumors portray the wish of the people of Pakistan as Raheel Sharif is the most respected and most popular army chief ever, who is set to retire on November 29, 2016.

Although, the army chief has time and again stated that he would not accept any extension in his tenure. But, more importantly, “Efforts to root out terrorism will continue with full vigor and resolve. Pakistan’s national interest is supreme and will be safeguarded at all costs,” the Army Chief was quoted as having said. General Sharif is a man of his words and he will always safeguard the national interest.

The geopolitical dynamics have changed and at such a testing moment of time, the status quo needs to be maintained for the betterment, prosperity and even sovereignty of Pakistan. There is a popular consensus that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should convince army chief to accept the extension.

Historically, each Pakistani COAS has followed and set his own policies to deal with various domestic and external challenges, with the exception of some traditional policies that have defined the military’s standing and role as an institution in the country.

Neighboring China is quite comfortable with General Raheel Sharif in respect of the progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The entire Pakistan army comprises of highly patriotic, dedicated and competent personnel.

However, the new military chief may set a different approach to dealing with the internal militancy and civilian government in the country, which could disrupt current policies set by General Sharif.

The current COAS’ approach against militancy in the country has brought violence down by more than 60 percent since 2013. Furthermore, as the Islamic State (IS) rapidly increases its foothold in the region, Pakistan has kept a tight lid on the group and its potential affiliates.

The high point in his tenure was the start of operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in June 2014, something from which his predecessor shied away fearing blowback. The operation is now in its last stages. He is also credited for action against militancy in Karachi and partially restoring calm in the city. The operation in Karachi was quite tactfully handled and Maj. Gen Bilal Akbar conducted a very targeted operation without disrupting the life in the city.

The economic indicators are improving, law & order has returned to the country and the confidence of the international community is restoring in Pakistan. The country is on the path of prosperity and development.

At such a critical point of time, just one move can make or mar the future of this great nation. It is strongly believed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the larger national interest would grant extension in the tenure of General Sharif and it is the wish of the nation that General Raheel Sharif would continue serving the interests of Pakistan.

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