LAHORE  - Reading between the lines, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to announce the names of new CJCSC and COAS at the same time indicates that the government wants to keep the name of new Army chief a secret till the retirement of General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani on November 29th.

The Prime Minister’s indecision on naming a new CJCSC, is, infact, his indecision on naming a new Army chief.

Had the government announced the name of new CJCSC on Monday, it would have become known to all and sundry who would be the next COAS.

The appointment of new CJCSC has never been as important in country’s history as this time around. This is so because the Prime Minister’s choice of the successor to the outgoing CJCSC this time would determine who is going to command the Armed Forces; given the fact that government has resolved to appoint the new Army chief on seniority basis.

As per rules, the slot of CJCSC can go to any of the senior most officers in the three services- Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force.

If the PM had decided on Monday to appoint new CJCSC from Pakistan Navy or the Air Force, it would have become clear that senior most Lt. General Haroon Aslam would be the new COAS. And, if he had picked the new CJCSC from the Army, Lt.Gen Rashid would have been the new Army chief with Haroon occupying the position of CJCSC.

The question arises why the decision to appoint new CJCSC has been deferred till the retirement of General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani who would now be keeping the charge of this office till his retirement if the government does not find a suitable General to occupy the post before he leaves the Army.

An official handout issued by Prime Minister’s media office said that though the PM recognised that announcement of successor to outgoing CJCSC before October 8th and retirement of Army Chief on November 29th were “reasonably important issues’, but said that this needed “comprehensive considerations”.

The official statement also said that Government was fully cognizant of its Constitutional obligations and PM will take every decision keeping the interest of the country supreme.

But it did not elaborate which national interest has prevented the government to announce the name of new CJCSC and the COAS before hand to give an end to the prevailing confusion.

It only confirms media reports that government is virtually in a state of dilemma over the new appointments. This also means that the nation would remain on tenterhooks for another month or so waiting for the advent of new COAS. May be the PM wants to take this vital decision after his upcoming visit to the US.