Raheel Sharif, the chief of Pakistan army is hailed all over Pakistan for services rendered to the nation beyond the call of duty. Today, he is more popular among the people of Pakistan than their Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Raheel Sharif belongs to a decorated family with a military background and has had years of experience in the Army. He has also served under the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Mushraff, whose misadventures in India’s Kargil are well documented. But who is Raheel Sharif and what can India expect from him in the wake of the surgical strikes India carried out in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)?
One of the reasons why Raheel Sharif is a better opinion leader than Nawaz Sharif is because of his army operation ‘Zarb-e-azb’ launched on the 15th of June 2014, one week after Jinnah International Airport was attacked by Tehrik-i-Taliban and had led to the killing of 28 people. It was launched to uproot ‘terror’ from Pakistani areas where the writ of these terrorists ran large and the government was largely missing.
Six months after the launch of the operation, when Tehrik-i-Taliban attacked Army Public School in Peshawar and caused 148 casualties, it was then that the popularity of Rafeel Sharif was more evident than ever. The people of Pakistan had put up Rafeel Sharif’s posters in their support of eradicating terrorism from the state.
“One more thing I appreciate about him is that he will be retiring in a couple of months. Usually, army chiefs take extension here and stay longer than their tenure” said Atiq Khan, a student of social development and policy making at Habib University in Karachi. Atiq belongs to one of several families which migrated from India in 1947 after partition.
However, it is the history of Rafeel Sharif which needs to be discussed in the current scenario when India and Pakistan are on the verge of a war and where Pakistan has already attacked India more than 25 times from across the border that led to the killing of a number of soldiers.
Rafeel Sahrif is the son of late Major Rana Muhammad Sharif, a four-star general in the Pakistan Army. He lost two of his kin in two separate wars, both – against India. His uncle Raja Aziz Bhatti and his brother Major Rana Shabbir Sharif died in Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 respectively.
Also, Sharif is known for enhancing the capabilities of military colleges and providing ‘unconventional warfare training’ to the troops, the definition of which is ambiguous and gives us an insight about the ideology of the Pak army chief.
Now, it is for India to see if the ghosts of killed kin are still calling Raheel Sharif to Hindustan and if they do, is an ‘unconventional war’ strategy to be expected from the Pakistan army? Does this refer to nuclear warfare? Or is it all about increasing terror strikes or even use of biological/chemical warfare is not clear.