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New Pakistani Army Chief Takes Command

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

General Raheel Sharif

General Raheel Sharif

General Raheel Sharif has formally taken over as chief of Pakistan's army staff, one of the most powerful positions in the nuclear-armed nation.

Sharif took charge from General Ashfaq Kayani at a ceremony in Rawalpindi on November 29.

Before his elevation to the top military post, Sharif most recently served as the head of the army's training and evaluation wing.

The change of command comes at a time of numerous challenges for Pakistan. They include the war on terrorism in Pakistan, the winding-down of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, and continued tension with India over disputed Kashmir.

The new army chief is expected to continue his predecessor's policies, including avoiding overt meddling in politics.

The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 65-year history through numerous coups.

Meanwhile, officials in Pakistan say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed at least two suspected militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border.

Intelligence officials said the overnight strike targeted a building in the North Waziristan region, which is considered a stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.

The AFP news agency quoted officials as saying two suspected militants had been killed.

The identities of those killed in the strike were not immediately known.

Pakistani politicians have frequently been critical of such U.S. drone strikes, saying they violate Pakistani sovereignty and can harm civilians.

Washington considers drone strikes to be an important tool used in the battle against militants.

With reporting by AFP and