Gen Raheel’s dignified exit

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IT is now official that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif would be calling it a day on expiry of his term on Nov 29, bringing an end to all sorts of speculations and rumours as to whether he would get an extension or not. The outgoing COAS has started having farewell meetings with officers and troops by addressing Jawans in Lahore on Monday.
In fact, there was no confusion in this regard as far as Gen Raheel Sharif himself is concerned, as in January this year he categorically stated “I don’t believe in extension and will retire on due date”. However, speculations continued because of vested interests and some circles even related the issue to political developments as well. However, Monday’s official announcement by ISPR that Gen Raheel has kicked off his farewell visits has proved that the General, true to his reputation, fulfilled his pledge in this regard too. History would surely remember Gen Raheel Sharif for assuming leadership of Pakistan Army at a critical juncture and waging a relentless war against anti-Pakistan forces throughout his three-year tenure. He took the bold decision to launch an all-out war against terror and apart from stabilising gains in areas like Swat and Malakand also ordered his troops to march into Waziristan to establish authority of the State there. No doubt, armed forces and security agencies had to offer immense sacrifices but as a consequence the much-needed peace has almost been restored in the length and breadth of the country including Karachi, which had become a nightmare for the people of Pakistan because of nose-dive in law & order situation. He also had a clear-cut policy in addressing the issue of security, law & order in Balochistan and had plain talks with his counterpart and leadership of Afghanistan from where frequent terrorist attacks were either sponsored or launched. One must also give credit to Gen Raheel Sharif for spurning suggestions by some circles to intervene in political affairs. Instead, he focused his attention towards professional pursuits of his force and succeeded in restoring its image as one of the best fighting forces of the world. By virtue of his achievement and contribution there would have been no surprise if he was granted extension but his principle-based decision not to get one has elevated his stature further in the eyes of the nation. He has been a hero and would remain a hero forever. We would also suggest that the country must utilise his services and expertise even after his retirement from Army.