Pakistan Army Chief's tenure comes to a close
Raheel Sharif, Pakistan's Army-Chief's tenure will end in November 2016; his successor will be appointed by Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif. There are multiple contenders for this crucial position, namely, Lieutenant General Ahmad, Lieutenant General Zubair Hayat, Lieutenant General Javed Bajwa however the front-runner is Lt. General Javed Ramday. Speculation however subsists that General Sharif may continue to retain some or all of his powers.
There have been numerous attempts at military coups in Pakistan, but only three succeeded. In 1951, Pakistan witnessed its first coup against Liaquat Khan, Pakistan's first PM. However a timely tip-off and arrest of Major General Akbar Khan averted it. Between the first successful coup in 1958 and death of General Zia in 1988, Pakistan had a democratic government for less than 5 years.
Post the murder of Pakistan's First PM, Liaquat Khan, from 1951 - 1958, Pakistan saw immense political instability with six Prime Ministers in little over six years. In 1958, the President suspended the Constitution and imposed martial law for the first time in Pakistan. In less than 20 days, the army took control post a coup and General Ayub Khan took control.
In 1977, the democratically elected government led by the very popular Zulfikar-Ali-Bhutto was ousted by army intervention. On July 4, at midnight, a coup was led against Bhutto's government and General Zia took control and PM Bhutto and his ministers were arrested. Ousted PM Bhutto was hanged after a trial which many believed to be a "sham murder trial."
Since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto assumed office in 1971 he had been successful in averting two botched military coups. However he succumbed to the third attempt in 1977. The coup led by General Zia in 1977 was code named "Operation Fair Play".
Between General Zia's passing in 1988 and the 1999 coup, Pakistan had nine different governments. The coup led by General Musharraf took merely 17 hours to overthrow the Nawaz Sharif government. PM Sharif was arrested and remained in jail for 14 months. Sharif's party won a massive-victory in 1997 but had become unpopular due to manifold reasons. Musharraf remained in power for 9 years.
The Pervez Musharraf government announced the suspension of Nawaz Sharif's death sentence 14-months after his arrest. Soon after, Sharif flew to Jeddhah with 18 family members and remained in exile for seven years. His exit from Pakistan was allegedly under extreme pressure from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Sharif returned in November 2007 and elevated into power once again. He became Prime Minister in 2013.
Nawaz Sharif assumed office in 2013. For the first time Pakistan witnessed a 'transfer of power' from one elected leader to another. In 2016, Mr. Sharif will preside over another milestone; the retirement of Gen Raheel Sharif. Rumours of coup startled everyone in July, when banners were put up in major Pakistani cities, requesting General Sharif to reconsider retirement and initiate a military coup.
The appointment of Pakistan's next Army Chief will be keenly watched as he will influence Pakistan's equation with India and USA. If General Sharif steps down in November, this would be the first time someone exited the military's topmost job 'as scheduled' in two decades.