ISLAMABAD - The Nawaz government has decided to go by the book and appoint the senior-most officer in the army as the next Army Chief, some government insiders claimed yesterday.

Without giving any name, they said, the decision has been taken after consultation with all stakeholders – including outgoing Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.

Apart from General Raheel and CJCSC General Rashad Mahmood, four of the most senior generals are to retire next month. They are Lt-Gen Nasir Janjua, Syed Tariq, Mohammad Ayaz, and General Naved Zaman. After them, the next four in line are: Lt-Gen Maqsood Ahmed (currently on deputation with the UN), Lt-Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat (Chief of General Staff), Lt-Gen Syed Wajid Hussain (HIT Taxila) and Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem (Multan Corps commander).

Lt-Gen Maqsood, who is serving as military adviser with the UN, is already on an extension and not eligible for promotion. Lt-Gen Wajid and Lt-Gen Najibullah both are not technically qualified since they have not commanded a corps.

This leaves us with the senior-most Gen Zubair and the eligibly second most senior Gen Ishfaq. They are followed by Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and Inspector General Training and Evaluation Qamar Javed Bajwa.

One of these four generals is likely to get COAS slot and the other CJCSC post.

A panel of three general officers is sent to the PM by defence ministry, but it is his discretion to appoint anyone  he deemds suited for the job.

In the past, the seniority rule has seldom been observed. Even Gen Raheel Sharif was third on the seniority list when he was appointed army chief.

Sources in the PML-N said that after the high-profile security meeting information leak the top party brass was extra cautious about sharing information with media.

Officially so far the summary for the appointment of new COAS has not been moved by the defence ministry to the PM. But government sources insisted the decision has been made.

The announcement of new army chief is likely be made a couple of days before Gen Raheel Sharif’s retirement.