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Vice Admiral Zakaullah is new naval chief

03 October, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In an expected move, Vice Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah has been elevated to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) position following the supersession of his senior who has proceeded on LPR (Leave Preparatory to Retirement), it is learnt.

Zakaullah was the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS) and second in the seniority of Pakistan Navy's three-star vice admirals followed by Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafiq who was commissioned in Pakistan Navy in June 1977 compared to Zakaullah's commissioning in June 1978.

The new naval chief would assume charge on Tuesday (October 7), following the retirement of incumbent naval chief Asif Sandila. Practically, prime minister has the authority to appoint services chiefs while the decision is ceremonially endorsed by the president.

Last November, PM Nawaz Sharif had decided in favour of Rashad Mehmood and Raheel Sharif who were second and third in the seniority list of three-star generals and were elevated to the rank of four-star generals as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) whereas Haroon Aslam, the senior-most lieutenant general, was superseded and went on pre-retirement leave.

The Defence Ministry sent three names to the Prime Minister's Secretariat for the appointment of the new naval chief. These names were Muhammad Shafiq, Zakaullah and Shafqat Javed. Javed was third in the seniority list of vice admirals. All the three officers belong to Pakistan Navy's Operations branch and were promoted to the vice admiral rank in February 2012.

According to Pakistan Navy, the new naval chief won the coveted Sword of Honour from Pakistan Naval Academy. He was also awarded Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal at his graduation.

"During his distinguished career, the Admiral attained vast experience of operational, training and Command assignments," the Navy said in a statement on Thursday. Zakaullah's command appointments included Command of a Destroyer and 25th Destroyer Squadron, Commandant Pakistan Naval Academy, Commander Pakistan Fleet and Command of Multinational Maritime Task Force. Some of his key staff appointments include Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Plans), Defence Attache in Qatar, Director General National Accountability Bureau (Rawalpindi), Chief Inspector (Navy), Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Training & Personnel), Naval Secretary and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations).

Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah is a graduate of Royal Naval Staff College, UK and National Defence University Islamabad. He holds Masters degree in Defence Studies from London University and MSc (War Studies) from Quaid-e-Azam University. In October 2011, the then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had appointed Asif Sandila, the senior-most vice admiral, as the CNS following the retirement of Noman Bashir.

Reportedly, the then defence secretary Lieutenant General (r) Athar Ali wanted Vice Admiral Abbas Raza's elevation at the naval chief position and had recommended his name. Raza was third in the seniority list of Vice Admirals. Gillani ignored Ali's recommendation and decided in favour of Sandila.


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