Back in 2013 when Gen Kayani announced that he would not take an extension for a second time, Gen Sharif was not among the favourites in the race for army chief.
Even after he beat all the odds to become the chief, his detractors continued to doubt him saying he lacked intelligence and operations background.
But he did not allow those shortcomings to become a handicap and proved everyone wrong.
The high point in his tenure was the start of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in June 2014, something from which his predecessor shied away fearing blowback.
The operation is now in its last stages. He is also credited for action against militancy in Karachi and partially restoring calm in the city.
Gen Sharif has all along been supportive of the government, except for a statement at the corps commanders’ conference last November when he expressed reservations over civilian administration’s governance. The comment presented the spectacle of a row between the civilian and military leadership. He has, nevertheless, maintained strong influence over the government’s foreign and national security policies.
The general garnered unprecedented popularity among the general public and on social media, spawning a hashtag #ThankYouRaheelSharif.