ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif to either become Field Marshal or extend his run as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, sources told Daily Times on Friday. The prime minister wants to make final decision on this critical issue before his departure to the United States by the mid of this month, sources said, adding that the PM has tabled two options for the army chief and now it was up to him to pick any or none of them. “The prime minister does not wish to prolong the issue any further,” sources confirmed. These proposals were conveyed to the army chief through Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Both the proposals indicated that the prime minister “does not want to extend the service of General Raheel Sharif as COAS”. The army chief is retiring in November and has already stated that he would not seek extension at the expiry of his three-year term. Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa also informed reporters at a briefing a couple of days ago that there was no change in the army chief’s position on retirement at the completion of his tenure. “We will inform you in case of any change to this position,” he asserted, urging the media to not indulge into speculations over the issue. Senior federal ministers have repeatedly asserted that neither the army chief was interested in continuing beyond November 2016 nor the PM had ‘requested’ him to stay. According to rules, the army chief nominates three potential successors to the prime minister, who has the prerogative to appoint anyone of them to the highest military office. The PM may also reject all three names and appoint someone else from the top military command as the army chief. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not enjoy flawless track record as far as his relations with army chiefs were concerned. He had incurred ire of the armed forces when he forced General Jehangir Karamat out of service. Later, his decision of appointing General Musharraf cost him his government while the entire Sharif family had to spend seven years in exile. The Sharif family was also accused of bribing General Asif Nawaz Janjua (who refused to accept that) in order to maintain ‘cordial’ relations with the armed forces. Sources said the PM wanted to cull the rumours of possible extension with General Raheel Sharif as soon as possible. He, somehow, feels uneasy to retain the man who enjoyed tremendous public respect owing to his tireless efforts in eradication of terrorism from the most lawless regions of the country. A few months ago, the prime minister and his senior ministers were upset over a public statement from the military’s media wing in which the armed forces pointed out the poor state of governance in the country. Sources said the PM has now been privately discussing the issue of appointing new army chief with the close aides and family members. In case Gen Raheel Sharif retires as per schedule, the situation would be rather interesting given the seniority list of other generals. Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmad would be the senior most general, who is military advisor in the department of peacekeeping operations at the United Nations. Sources said General Ahmad has already taken one extension and is likely to retire upon his return to Pakistan. The next in line is Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat, who is apparently the strongest candidate to be appointed as next COAS. Sources said the prime minister might also consider Lt Gen Wajid Hussain, who hails from the engineering corps.