The Presidency appointed Vice Admiral Asif Sandila as Chief of Naval Staff on merit after Pakistan’s military establishment reportedly opposed Vice Admiral Abbas Raza’s appointment for the naval chief slot.
Vice Admiral Asif Sandila was previously performing duties as Chief of the Staff and is the first in the seniority list of Pakistan Navy’s top hierarchy. Last month, the Defence Ministry had forwarded four names to the Presidency for the selection of Naval chief. They included vice admirals Asif Sandila, Tanveer Faiz, Abbas Raza and Tayyab Ali Dogar. Reportedly, Secretary Defence Syed Athar Ali was supporting Vice Admiral Abbas Raza due to the Secretary’s close association with Raza. Abbas Raza is third in the seniority list and is presently working as the Commander Pak Fleet. It is learnt that the President Asif Ali Zardari had finalised Abbas Raza’s name for his appointment as Chief of Naval Staff but the military establishment opposed this move; reportedly on the pretext that it wanted the naval chief appointment on the basis of merit considering the seniority factor.
A decision in principal was subsequently taken by the Presidency to chose Vice Admiral Asif Sandila for filling in the naval chief slot, reportedly a couple of days ago. Principal Staff Officer Vice Admiral Tanveer Faiz is second in the seniority list while Air Defence Commander Vice Admiral Tayyab Ali Dogar is fourth in line.
The incumbent outgoing Naval Chief Admiral Noman Bashir is due to retire tomorrow (Friday).
As per his officially available record, born in 1954, the new Naval Chief Admiral Asif Sandila joined Pakistan Navy in 1972. He was commissioned in Naval Operations Branch in 1975. During nearly forty years of his professional career at the Navy, the 57-year old Admiral has served at key posts including Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff on operational and projects sides, Commander Pakistan Fleet and 25th Destroyer Squadron. He has also worked as Naval Secretary to the Prime Minster and commanded Naval Strategic Forces, Pakistan Coast Guard, Naval Observatory and F-184 PNS Badr. Sandila participated in key Naval exercises and operations including Operation Madad-I, Madad-II and Operation Umeed-e-Nau. He was conferred military Hilal-e-Imtiaz for his services during operation Madad-I and the prestigious French award Chevalier de I’ order or Legion of Honour for saving life of French national in Maldives during Tsunami in December 2004.
Admiral Asif Sandila acquired masters degree in War Studies from the National Defence College (now known as National Defence University). He has received professional training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) from where he specialised as Principal Warfare Officer. He also took professional training from Indonesia where he completed Command and Staff course from.
Admiral Sandila also served as Training Commander at Pakistan Naval Academy and Fleet Operations Officer. He also remained Director Projects, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Plans) and Principal Secretary to Chief of the Naval Staff. He had been Director General Maritime Security Agency, Commander Pakistan Fleet and Commander Logistics before taking up his previous assignment as Chief of Staff (COS).
Meanwhile, the newly appointed Naval Chief, Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila on Wednesday called on President Asif Ali Zardari here at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The President felicitated him on his promotion and appointment as the naval chief. He expressed the hope that during his tenure, Pakistan Navy would be further strengthened and would greatly benefit from his leadership qualities. The matters relating to Pakistan Navy were also discussed during the meeting.
Meanwhile, outgoing Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir, paid a farewell call on Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani here Wednesday morning at the PM’s House.
The Naval Chief apprised the Prime Minister of the welfare projects completed during his tenure as well as the latest developments regarding training and education of Navy personnel. These welfare projects include construction and handing over of houses for retired CPOs/Sailors, construction of residential estate at Younusabad, Karachi, for serving sailors, induction of lady officers and female sailors in Pakistan Navy, the Naval Chief said.
The Prime Minister appreciated the contributions made by the Naval Chief for uplifting the training and living standards of PN Sailors through housing schemes. The Prime Minister also applauded the role being played by Pakistan Navy in relief, rescue and rehabilitation of flood affectees in lower Sindh and other nation-building efforts undertaken during earlier calamities and natural disasters.