ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to finalise the successor of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif next month, sources told Daily Times. The COAS is retiring in November and has already stated that he would not seek extension at the expiry of his three-year term. Senior federal ministers have repeatedly asserted that neither the COAS was interested in continuing beyond November 2016 nor the prime minister had ‘requested’ him to stay. They brushed aside the rumours of civil-military tensions on this specific matter. Rules say the COAS sends names of his three potential successors to the prime minister, who has the prerogative to appoint anyone of them to the highest military office. The prime minister may also reject all three names and appoint someone else from the top military command as the COAS. 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 and 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 prime minister wanted to cull the rumors of possible extension to General Raheel Sharif as soon as possible. He, somehow, feels uneasy to retain the man who has got tremendous public respect owing to his tireless efforts to eradicate terrorism from the most lawless regions of the country. The prime minister returned to Islamabad on Thursday after almost two months following his open-heart surgery and post-operation recovery. Interestingly, the first picture released by his media wing showed him reading a General Headquarters (GHQ) file during his flight from Lahore. Later, he held a meeting with the COAS to ‘discuss national security matters’. Sources said the prime minister did not appreciate the summoning of his senior ministers to the GHQ while he was in London for the surgery. He believed it sent a very wrong signal and raised the question of domination. 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 prime minister has now been privately discussing the issue of appointment of new army chief with the close aides and a few family members. “Yes, we are aware of the rumours that government is considering enhancing the term of the army chief and other services chiefs from three to four years. And for this, government may amend the law or the constitution, but it is up to the government. Military never made any such demand,” defense sources said. They observed appointment of the new army chief would not be an easy job for the prime minister. And, therefore, he wants to get over with this sooner than later, they added. There is interesting situation in the seniority list of the army after the retirement of General Raheel Sharif. Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmad would be the senior most general, who is military advisor in the department of peace keeping 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. In the past, Prime Minister Sharif has appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Khawaja as COAS who belonged to the engineering corps. The appointment was not then accepted by the other corps commanders. Sources said Corps Commander Multan Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem is also another senior general and a strong candidate for the highest office. Corps Commander Bahawalpur Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and Inspector General training and evolution Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa may also be considered for the job. Sources said the prime minister was also considering appointing Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Amir Riaz as Chief of General Staff.