Towards the end of 2022, in November, the prime minister will have to make some important decisions: choosing the new chief of army staff (COAS) and chairman joint chief of staff committee (CJCSC)? If the current military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term is not extended, then the new COAS and CJCSC will be selected from among the following senior-most lieutenant generals of the Pakistan Army.
In November, after the retirement of Gen. Bajwa and CJCSC Gen. Nadeem, the senior-most military officer will be Corps Commander Rawalpindi Lt. Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza. The general will be in the running for both the post of chairman joint chief of staff committee and army chief.
The other five who could be named to the top position are (listed in order of seniority): Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt. Gen. Nauman Mahmood Raja, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Aamer, Lt. Gen. Chiragh Haider Baloch.
The incumbent director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad Anjum Sheikh would be seventh on the list.
Who are the front-runners?
1) Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza
Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza is currently serving as Corps Commander Rawalpindi. Previously, he was chief of general staff in the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army.
As a two-star general, he served as the director general of the military operations, vice chief of general staff as well as commanded the 40 Infantry Division in Dera Ismail Khan. The division has now moved to Okara. He belongs to Mulhal Mughlan in district Chakwal, Punjab.
2) Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas
Lt Gen Azhar Abbas is serving as chief of general staff at the moment. Prior to his current posting, he commanded the Rawalpindi Corps and was DG joint staff headquarter. He was also the personal secretary to former army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif.
He has further served as general officer commanding the 12 Infantry Division in Murree.
Interestingly, Pakistan’s last five chairmen joint chiefs of staff committee have previously also held the post of general staff.
3) Lt. Gen. Nauman Mahmood Raja
Lt. Gen. Nauman M. Raja is the president of the National Defense University. Previously, he held the positions of corps commander Peshawar and inspector general communication and IT. As a major general, he has served in the ISI as DG analysis as well as general officer commanding of the Infantry division in Miranshah. Lt Gen Raja belongs to Adhwal, Rawalpindi.
Also important to note is that Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood Raja, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed all three belong to the Baloch Regiment.
4) Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed
Currently serving as corps commander Peshawar, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed has served as the DG ISI and adjutant general. As a major general, Gen. Hameed commanded the Pano Aqil Infantry Division and remained DG counter intelligence/ internal security ISI.
When he was a brigadier, he served as the chief of staff of the Rawalpindi Corps with then Lt. Gen. and now COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. He hails from the Latifal district Chakwal.
Interestingly, only three corps commanders of Peshawar were later elevated to the position of four-star generals in the past – namely, General Sawar Khan, General Aslam Baig and General Ehsan ul Haq.
5) Lt. Gen. Muhammad Aamer
The corps commander Gujranwala Lt Gen Muhammad Aamer belongs to the Artillery. Previously, he has served as the adjutant general. As a major general, he was the GoC of the 10 Infantry Div Lahore & director general staff duties at the COAS secretariat.
6) Lt. Gen. Chiragh Haider Baloch
The corps commander Multan Lt. Gen. Chiragh Haidar Baloch is a Punjabi Baloch and belongs to the Sahiwal, district Sargodha. Previously, he has served as the DG of the joint staff headquarter, DG military training and GoC Infantry Division Jhelum.
7) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum Sheikh
The serving DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum Sheikh has previously served as corps commander Karachi, commandant command and staff college Quetta, inspector general frontier corps Balochistan and brigade commander Waziristan and Kurram Agency.
Who will be COAS and CJCSC come November?
As is tradition, the top candidates are nominated and promoted by the outgoing chief of army staff, out of which, the prime minister then chooses the next COAS and CJCSC.
Thus, Lt. Gen. Mirza, Lt. Gen. Abbas, Lt. Gen. Raja and Lt. Gen. Hameed were promoted to the three-star ranks in April 2019. While Lt. Gen. Aamer, Lt. Gen. Baloch and Lt. Gen. Sheikh were promoted to the rank in September 2019.
Also, it is important to note that the major generals being promoted to Lt. Gen. positions now by the army chief Gen. Bajwa will be in the running for the top slots in November 2025.
But as for who the prime minister will choose, that will be entirely his discretion.
The more important question to ask is will Prime Minister Imran Khan go the way of former president Asif Zardari and give an extension in tenure to Gen. Bajwa? Or will he follow in the footsteps of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and overlook the senior-most men?
This article was originally written as a Twitter thread.