The fact that it is constitutionally allowed does not mean Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has 30 days to waste before announcing a new Joint Chief and a replacement for COAS General Kayani. Already the PM and his administration has given the impression that General Kayani’s retirement announcement has caught them as a surprise (albeit a welcome one), and relieved them of the uncomfortable burden of informing the chief that he would stand retired on November 29. The press release of the retirement announcement was issued via the ISPR. The Ministry of Defence appeared to be utterly irrelevant to the decision – as usual. The fact that the portfolio of the Ministry of Defence has been jealously retained by Mr Sharif, in order for ‘things to go smoothly’ is now a dire embarrassment.

Debilitated by the fear of the unknown – ie Mr Kayani’s replacement – and paranoid that anything less than obsequious appeasement may provoke a reaction, Mr Sharif has displayed the unenviable posture of one paralysed by fear. Now that Mr Wynne is gone and Mr Kayani is no longer to stay – as it should be – the PM is free to act. There is no excuse not to. He must make the announcement of the new COAS and Joint Chief with as much haste as possible.

It is not just for Mr Sharif’s image, but for the health of the institution of the defense forces that it’s new leadership must be immediately announced. Infighting and lobbying among the senior most generals is inevitable, and the longer it is allowed to carry on, the more damaging it is.

On the unbelievable pretext of keeping the names of the new COAS and Joint Chief “secret”, Mr Sharif is buying time. What for? Any of the topmost generals ought to be able to do the job. The PM must have been examining their credentials for a few weeks now. A delay does not display confidence; it displays indecisiveness and an administration taken by surprise.