LAHORE – With the retirements of the present Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Raheel Sharif,  and Gen. Rashad Mahmood, who is the existing Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee expected in November, there has been a wave of recent speculation on who will be the next Army Chief.

The current COAS is expected to retire on Nov 28 this year, whereas his colleague Gen. Mahmood is expected to retire a day earlier. There are a number of considerations that will determine who will succeed the two top military men.

Seniority in the Pakistan Military Academy Long Course, coupled with the rank and Pakistan Army number [PA Number], determines one’s standing in the Army. Among the present three stars generals, we have officers from the 62nd PMA Long Course, who are the senior-most officers after the COAS.

From within them, Lt. Gen. Zubair Mehmood Hayat, an artillery officer, is the senior most and is the present Chief of General Staff of Pak Army. His cohorts include Lt. Gen. Najib Ullah Khan, Lt. Gen. Wajid Ul Hassan, Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal, and Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to Geo News.

Lt. Gen. Zubair has held important posts, such as Corps Commander Bahawalpur and Director General Strategic Plans Division before assuming his present office. He was also Principal Staff Officer with former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as a Brigadier.

Next in the line is Lt. Gen. Najeeb ullah Khan, who is from the Corps of Engineers and is presently serving as Director General Joint Staff. He was previously Quarter Master General in GHQ and also served as DG FWO. However, he has also not commanded any corps yet.

Next in seniority is an officer from the Armoured Corps, Lt. Gen. Wajid Ul Hassan. He is presently serving as the Chairman of Heavy Industries Taxila. However, he has not commanded any corps either.

Fourth in line is Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, who had been Chief of General Staff and was also Director General Military Operations. Presently, he is commanding the Multan Corps.

Many former army chiefs have served as DGMO before being appointed to the top slot. These include Gen. Jehangir Karamat, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg.

Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal is another prominent officer from the 62nd Long Course, who is presently commanding Bahawalpur Corps and was previously president of the National Defense University.

Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is also in contention. He was previously Commander of important Rawalpindi Corps and is presently employed as Inspector General Training and Evaluation, at GHQ, a position General Raheel Sharif held before becoming the army chief.

Normally, commanding a corps carries huge weight in the appointments of four-star generals. If the prime minister considers this important fact, then we will clearly see four front-runners for the two appointments of CJCSC and COAS: Lt. Gen. Zubair Hayat, Lt. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal, and Lt. Gen. Qamar Bajwa.

Normally, CGS and DGMO are the most important appointments in the career of any general officer, as majority of former chiefs had either been CGS, DGMO, or both.