Pakistan’s powerful Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday said he would retire as scheduled in November this year, dismissing as “baseless” reports that he may seek an extension due to the ongoing counter-terror offensive.
General Raheel (59) will complete his three-year term in November and it was being speculated that like his predecessor Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, he may seek another term, especially as the counter-terrorism operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’, started under General Raheel’s command in June 2014, is in a crucial phase.
Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted quoting the Army Chief that speculation about extension in service are “baseless“.
I dont believe in extension
“I don’t believe in extension and will retire on the due date,” General Raheel said, adding that “efforts to rout out terrorism will continue with full vigour and resolve.”
General Raheel, Pakistan’s 15th Chief of Army Staff, further said that “Pakistan’s national interest is supreme and will be safeguarded at all costs.”
Earlier General Pervez Musharraf had also given extensions to himself from 2001 to 2008, when he was also serving as the country’s President. Together with General Kayani, who got a three-year extension, the two shared the office of Chief of Army Staff between them for almost 16 years. The operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ against militants has so far killed around 3,500 terrorists and has destroyed nearly 1,000 hideouts, according to the Pakistan Army.
Many want him to continue
Many commentators were supporting an extension for General Raheel citing the crucial stage the operation was going through. Local media reports had claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also supportive of an extension to the Army Chief.