ISLAMABAD -  In an underlined indication that new chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) would be from the military, the government has not sought the names from the ministry concerned for appointing a service chief if the CJCSC was to be picked from an armed force other than Pakistan Army.

Till date, the Prime Minister Secretariat has not instructed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to prepare and send a summary containing the names of the respective candidates for the appointment of a service chief if the CJCSC was to be picked from Pakistan Navy or Pakistan Air Force, informed ministry sources shared.

“The slot of naval or air chief was to get vacant had the PM wanted to appoint a service chief as CJCSC from either of the two forces. In such a scenario, a summary was to be sent to the premier for appointing a service chief in addition to the CJCSC appointment. Neither has the PM sought any such summary nor has there been any development on this count,” added the officials.

Unlike the CJCSC, the sources furthered, services chiefs slots are not left vacant and replacements are announced beforehand. “There are no ad hoc or interim appointments as far as heading the armed forces is concerned. There is a very well organised system that envisages announcement of replacements from a given lot before the retirements of the services chiefs take place. Things can, however, be different in case of any untoward incident like death or sudden resignation of an armed force’s head, but such kind of circumstances are very rare.”

The prevailing scenario gives credence to the piece of information reported in this newspaper more than once that ministry had moved a summary to the PM Secretariat containing three army generals names, seeking the premier’s approval for the CJCSC appointment while Haroon Aslam and Rashad Mehmood, respectively first and second in the seniority list, are the reportedly finalised probables for CJCSC and chief of army staff (COAS) slots. The third General is Raheel Sharif.

Initially regarded as a candidate for the CJCSC slot, Naval Chief Asif Sandila’s name has not been formally taken up for the coveted military post. He would be retiring from Navy in October next year after completing his three-year term whereas Air Chief Tahir Tafique Butt would be calling it a day in March 2015. However, the retirement factor was not to matter in case any service chief was to be elevated as the CJCSC. Like services chiefs’ positions, the CJCSC post involves a three-year term appointment exclusive of the period spent as a service chief. Likewise, CJCSC and COAS probables Haroon Aslam and Rashad Mehmood would be getting three-year if promoted as four-star generals despite their present terms ending next year.

Earlier on Monday, The Nation had tried to acquire government’s version on the issue but PM’s Spokesman and Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid had refused to speak.

“The PM has issued a statement on this matter which does not leave me in a position to even speak on the issue after he spoke his mind. But I can say there’s no delay in naming the CJCSC. I’ve made it clear time and again, let’s wait for the right time and everything would come out clear,” he had said.

At Pakistan Navy, Vice Admirals Muhammad Shafiq, Zakaullah, and Shafqat Jawed are three senior most naval officers whose names were to be sent by the MoD for the naval chief’s appointment in case the incumbent naval chief was to be placed at the joint chiefs of staff committee.

Moreover, in case Tahir Rafique Butt was elevated as the CJCSC, Air Marshals Athar Hussain Bukhari, Asim Suleman and Jamshed Khan, the three senior most PAF officers, were to be the candidates for new air chief post.

Presently, at the MoD, neither Additional Secretary-II (PAF) Air Vice Marshal Arshad Qudoos nor Additional Secretary-III (Pakistan Navy) Rear Admiral Mukhtar Jadoon has prepared and subsequently forwarded the required summary to the Secretary Defence Lt-Gen (r) Asif Yasin Malik to be put up before PM Nawaz Sharif for appointing a service chief if CJCSC is to be chosen from the PAF or Navy.

The last four CJCSCs were junior than the army chiefs at the time of their appointments as the armed forces ceremonial heads.  Retired on Monday, General Khalid Shameem Wynne was quite junior than COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. In October 2010, when Wynne was promoted as a four-star general, General Kayani’s first three-year term as COAS was nearing its completion.  Moreover, the previous CJCSC General Tariq Majeed lagged far behind General (r) Pervez Musharraf in terms of seniority when the former was made CJCSC in October 2007 and the latter was COAS at that time. Likewise, Ehsan-ul-Haq and Aziz Khan, the two generals who respectively preceded Tariq Majeed, were also much junior than Musharraf, the then army chief.

The PM had said on Monday the announcements on the CJCSC and COAS appointments would be made at the same time. “Expectations regarding announcement of successor to outgoing chairman before 8th October and retirement of army chief on 29th November are reasonably important issues but need comprehensive considerations,” Sharif had said in a statement.