Musharraf likely to appoint vice army chief in coming weeks: report

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Islamabad, Sept 13 (UNI) Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf may spring a surprise while making top military appointments in the coming few weeks, including the all-important post of the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) the future army chief, a local media report said.

"Musharraf, who is to doff his uniform by November 15 this year, is keeping his cards close to his chest and there is hardly anyone amongst the top military commanders having any idea as to who would be promoted as a four star general and appointed as the VCOAS and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), The News reported.

The next VCOAS will become the Army Chief when Musharraf sheds his uniform. The incumbent Chairman Joint Chiefs General Ehsanul Haq, and VCOAS General Ahsan Saleem Hayat are retiring on October 8.

Prior to this deadline, Musharraf is expected to make top-level promotions against these anticipated vacancies any time during this month, the paper claimed.

According to sources, three factors "seniority, competence and loyalty" are generally considered for promotion of officers to the top-most posts of VCOAS/COAS and Chairman Joint Chiefs.

Seniority is important for the acceptability of the top commander in the senior ranks of the army. But the new army chief will have to show and prove to the people that he is a true professional.

Second and all the more crucial challenge would be the US pressure, its war on terror and the ongoing operations in the tribal areas, Waziristan in particular.

Only through his competence and professionalism, the Chief would keep a balance between the US pressure and the local sensitivities involved. He will have to clear the general perception that our army is fighting America's war.

According to the paper, loyalty is the third but in the present situation would possibly be the major factor in the appointment of VCOAS.

Musharraf would definitely want that the future Army Chief should be his most trusted man. Musharraf would also expect from the army to come to his aid when he needs it and that there should be an Army Chief on whom he can count.

Strong-headed Lt Generals have, therefore, little chance to dream for the key post. Background interviews with those who know a lot about who's who among Generals, confirm the fact that amongst the three star generals, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Lt Gen Ashfaq Kiyani and Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen Salahuddin Satti are generally known in the military circles as the most trusted top commanders of Musharraf.

But still no one is sure if anyone of them would be picked up for the key slot of the VCOAS.

UNI

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