ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has summoned a meeting of the federal cabinet for today to discuss key issues including the appointment of a new army chief.

General Raheel Sharif, who retires on November 28, has begun a round of farewell visits putting to rest all the speculation that he might receive an extension when his three-year term ends this month.

Gen Raheel had been immensely popular among the public, who saw him as having effectively tackled terrorism and corruption.

Gen Raheel had never said he would seek an extension, but speculation of such a move had recently been rife citing his excellent performance.

Prime Minister Sharif has until November 28 to pick his replacement. Typically, the military provides the prime minister dossiers of three or four contenders from which to choose one.

The potential contenders include Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday, Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat, Lt-Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad and Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Ministers and members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have lately been saying that the PM had already finalised a name for the top army slot. However, there had been no confirmation by the PM’s House. PM Sharif had also picked Gen Raheel as the army chief just ahead of Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s retirement in 2013.

Sharif is the PM to appoint a fifth army chief in his three non-consecutive terms.

Sharif as the prime minister had appointed Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua in 1991 and Gen Waheed Kakar in 1993. In his second tenure in 1998, he assigned the coveted post to Gen Pervez Musharraf, who later ousted him in 1999.

Gen Raheel was also picked by PM Sharif in 2013 and with his retirement next week, the premier will appoint a new army chief for the fifth time.

Officials said that the cabinet meeting will also discuss issues related to Indian violations along the Line of Control and repatriation of Afghan immigrants. The meeting is expected to approve a visa policy for Afghan immigrants.

PM Sharif will also take into account the progress in economic development while ongoing political and security situation of the country would also be discussed, said the officials.

The participants will exchange views regarding the participation of Pakistan in the Heart of Asia Conference to be held in India. Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has already announced he will visit India to attend the conference.