'Straight and Blunt' Ishfaq Nadeem Frontrunner to be Next Pak Army Chief


A bus moves past a banner hanging on a light pole with the picture of Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif along a road in Karachi, Pakistan/REUTERS

New Delhi: Lt. General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, who is likely to be nominated as the new Army chief of Pakistan, seems to have deepened the divide between the country’s civilian and military leaderships.

Seasoned Pakistan watchers in the Indian intelligence establishment quoting sources in ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) told News 18 that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was wary of Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem’s “straight and blunt” approach.

But despite the reservations Ishfaq Nadeem is set to be the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as he enjoys high reputation inside the forces and is the choice of the outgoing chief General Raheel Sharif.

Sharif, a highly popular general within the Pakistani forces and among general public, is set to retire in a few days.

Sources said Nawaz Sharif’s favourite was Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt General Javed Iqbal Ramday. Another option the Pakistani government is toying with is to anoint the senior-most general in the line-up, Lt Gen Zubair Hayat, as COAS and Ishfaq Nadeem as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), a largely ceremonial role.

Chiefs of Army Staff in Pakistan are appointed by the civilian leadership, but the Army has a big role to play in the decision. In 1999 when Nawaz Sharif who was the PM then appointed ISI chief Ziauddin Butt as the COAS dethroning General Pervez Musharraf, it was pre-empted by the larger Army leadership that rallied around Musharraf.

“Ishfaq Nadeem is very close to General Raheel Sharif. He is an outstanding professional but politically doesn’t suit the top brass because of his straight and blunt approach,” a top source told News18.

Ishfaq Nadeem is currently the Multan Corps Commander, one the main strike corps of Pakistani Army formed in 1971 before the Indo-Pak War that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.

Nadeem is also credited with making the blueprint for Zerb-E-Azab – the Army’s war against the Pakistani Taliban – as Director-General Military Operations and was appointed Chief of General Staff by Raheel Sharif but later shifted as Multan Corps Commander.

Inspector General (Training and Evaluation) Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is also in the fray.

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