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Raheel Sharif is Pakistan's new army chief

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Raheel Sharif is Pakistans new army chief
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Islamabad: Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif, whose brother was highly decorated after getting killed in the 1971 war with India, will be the new chief of the Pakistan Army, media reports said Wednesday.

Gen. Sharif -- who is not related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- will take charge of the world's sixth largest army Friday and will hold the post for three years.

Gen. Sharif will succeed Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, whose 2007-13 tenure was marred by the dramatic killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani territory by US commandos in May 2011. Kayani retires Thursday.

President Mamnoon Hussain formally approved the choice of Gen. Sharif, picked for the job by the prime minister, Xinhua quoted television channel Geo as saying.

Gen. Sharif will be the 15th chief of the army and will be promoted as a four-star general before taking office.

Born in Quetta June 16, 1956, Gen. Sharif grew up steeped in military tradition.

His elder brother Shabbir Sharif was a course-mate of the now jailed former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf and was killed in the 1971 war that broke up Pakistan and led to an independent Bangladesh.

Major Shabbir Sharif is credited with launching a major offensive against Indian positions in the western sector and was killed Dec 7, 1971 after heavy Indian shelling.

The late Major Sharif is the only one to win both the highest gallantry awards in Pakistan, Sitara-e-Jurat and Nishan-e-Haider, making him the highest decorated soldier in the country.

Younger brother Gen. Sharif attended the Government College at Lahore and the Pakistan Military Academy, whose commandant he later became.

After graduation, he was commissioned in 1976 in the battle hardened Sixth Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment -- of which his brother too was a part.

Musharraf handed him the command of the 11th Infantry Division in Lahore.

He has been the General Officer Commanding of an infantry division.

Gen. Sharif served as Corps Commander for two years before taking over as Inspector General Training and Evaluation in which capacity he oversaw the training of Pakistan Army.

A father of two sons and a daughter, the new army chief is said to be close to Pakistan Tribal Affairs Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, a retired military officer and a confidant of the Sharif family.

IANS

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