ISLAMABAD - Former spymaster Naushad Ahmed Kayani was the sixth serving general of Pakistan Army to have lost his life in around as many years, which makes the second highest death count of the top military officers in any given span of time, in the country’s Armed Forces history, after Zia air crash incident.

Since February 2008, a three-star and five two-star generals saw an end to their lives. With the exception of Major General Naushad Kayani, who died of medical ailment on Sunday, all the other five generals laid down their lives in the line of duty. This is the second maximum number of the deaths of serving army generals after August 17, 1988 incident when 20 generals, including the then army chief General Zia-ul-Haq were killed in a plane crash while flying from Bhawalpur base to Hasilpur, a town located in district Bhawalpur.

Of the generals who lost their lives in the recent years, three were killed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and two were the causalities of chopper crashes. The details of the six generals are as follow.

On February 6, 2008, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Waziristan Maj-Gen Javed Sultan’s helicopter crashed while he was aerially supervising a military operation in South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Resultantly, the major general, three captains, two brigadiers, a lieutenant colonel and a non-commissioned official were killed after the helicopter crashed near Tanai due to a reported technical fault, a few minutes before it took off from Wana.

On February 25, 2008, Surgeon General of Pakistan Army Lt-Gen Mushtaq Baig was killed in a suicide attack at a traffic signal near Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Saddar Rawalpindi when he was on his way home from the hospital. TTP claimed responsibility of this incident. Baig is the senior most military official to have been targeted by the terrorist umbrella organisation.

On December 4, 2009, Director General Joint Staff Headquarters (JSHQ) Maj- Gen Bilal Omer Khan and at least 35 others, including army officers, ex-army officers and civilians were killed when terrorists stormed a mosque located in Parade Lane near Qasim Market in Rawalpindi’s garrison area. Three terrorists were also killed.  On June 1, 2011, DG Punjab Rangers Maj-Gen Muhammad Nawaz was on his way to Multan from Dera Ghazi Khan when his helicopter crashed in River Indus near Layyah.

The general and three other army personnel comprising of his son Captain Asif Nawaz, Lt-Col Amir Abbas and a Technician Ibadullah were killed in the incident. The flight was originally scheduled for Kashmore but was diverted to Multan on account of bad weather.     

On September 15, 2013, in one of the deadliest terror-hits in the recent times, the TTP targeted GOC Swat and Malakand Division Maj-Gen Sanaullah Khan Niazi. His convoy was on the way back to Swat after spending a night in Bin Shahi Sector Upper Dir when targeted through an improvised explosive device (IED) near Gatkotal village. Lt-Col Tauseef Ahmad and Sepoy Sarfraz Sattar were the other two causalities in the attack. Notorious terrorist commander and TTP chief Fazlullah claimed responsibility of the tragic incident.

And finally on November 10, 2013, Maj-Gen Naushad Ahmed Kayani, former DG Military Intelligence (MI) succumbed to his protracted ailment at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Rawalpindi. The general was diagnosed with acute leukaemia (blood cancer) reportedly in the recent months and had gone to a foreign country for treatment that remained unsuccessful. Reportedly, owing to his deteriorating health, the deceased general was replaced with Maj-Gen Sarfraz Sattar as DG MI in August this year. Naushad was not assigned any posting since then and was purportedly granted medical leave to recover from the illness.