Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani left for Beijing on a four-day official visit Monday, where he will, according to the schedule, call on the Chinese political and military leadership. According to sources, joint military exercises with China will be discussed. Prior to leaving for China, the COAS announced that he will be stepping down from his position on November 29, the date ordained for retirement. In an attempt to lay the growing speculation over a possible extension to rest, the COAS declared that he intended to pursue no extension and would retire from his position as scheduled.

The statement is appreciated and so is the concern to allay the skepticism of a public that has already witnessed generals that took advantage of the nation’s reposed trust in them, but the actions fail to satisfy much of the cynicism. With November 29 only a few weeks away and no new name announced for the Chief of Army Staff General’s position yet, the chain of succession is cloudy. Routine visits to foreign countries are expected, but the ambiguity surrounding the new COAS’s name is unnecessary and only creates a sense of doubt among citizens. In order to solve this confusion, Premier Nawaz Sharif should announce the successor’s name.

In the past, the COAS has offered his support for the will of the people and expressed allegiance to the constitutional order for democracy to take place in. In a recent statement, he said: “The armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order. Pakistan Army has a comprehensive understanding of the trajectory Pakistan needs to take.” In order to maintain that order of trust and hope from the Army and the COAS, the Premier should declare the successor’s name soon so that any and all kind of doubt can be removed.