Zee Media Bureau
Islamabad: In what will bring an end to his six-year tenure as Pakistan Military Chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani announced that he would step down on November 29, dismissing the reports about his future plans as "speculations".
"My tenure ends November 29, 2013.On that day I will retire. May the almighty allah help and guide us all," Kayani said in a statement.
"It is time for others to carry forward the mission of making Pakistan a truly democratic, prosperous and peaceful country that embodies the finest dreams our founding fathers had envisaged for us."
"However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence," he added.
On reports of him being promoted to a higher post in the Army or the government, Kayani refuted them as "all sorts of rumours and speculations".
"The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I am grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history," the Army Chief said in the statement issued by Pakistan Army`s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Kayani replaced General Ehsanul Haq when Genral Pervez Musharraf appointed him as the Military Chief of Pakistan in 2007.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will decide who will be the country`s next Army Chief.
With Kayani`s term coming to an end in November, names of top Generals who are likely to succeed him are being discussed in the political circles and in the corridors of power here.
The appointment of the next army chief has gained wide attention in view of past difficulties faced by civilian governments in appointing persons to the coveted military post.
A number of names are in circulation and leading the race is Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, currently Chief of Logistics Staff. He will be the senior most General when Kayani steps down.
Lt Gen Aslam has served as Director Military Operations, commanded Elite Force Division (Special Services Group) and had been Corps Commander of Bahawalpur.
He also lead the successful anti-militancy operation in the Swat in 2009. He is due to retire on April 9 next year.
The other two in contention, based on seniority, will be Lt Gen Rashid Mehmood, Chief of General Staff and Lt Gen Raheel Sharif.
Following them is Lieutenant General Tariq Khan, Commander of 1 Strike Corps at Mangla and then ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheer-ul Islam at the fifth spot.
The appointment of a new Army chief comes at a time when the country is facing huge national security issues and is in the midst of the NATO troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.
With Agency Inputs