LAMIYA SHABBIR WRITES – Raheel sharif, the army chief of Pakistan, is more famous on social media than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain. The huge billboards in Karachi with his picture – and being on front page of newspapers everyday – has made it very hard for everyone to avoid him. Not only are his pictures are on local public transportation, but he is now being painted on colorful trucks as well.

The general is being praised on social media with the hashtag #ThankYouRaheelSharif on Facebook and Twitter.

The hashtag first appeared when the army chief went all out to catch and punish the militants responsible for the Peshawar school attack on December 16 2014.

However, people have not stepped back in mocking this hashtag. One TV producer tweeted, “On my way to work, all the traffic lights were green. #ThankYouRaheelSharif.” A satirical twitter account posted “Watched Mad Max Fury Road. The story is bizarre but the movie is fantastic!! #ThankYouRaheelSharif”.

The general’s supporters have reported these accounts to end the jokes by tagging the ISPR’s Inter-Services Public Relations director General Lieutenant Asim Bajwa.

A Pakistan military leader has always been portrayed as a savior who comes to save the nation when helpless. Former president retired General Pervez Musharraf congratulated General Sharif on his popularity and commented he was doing a “wonderful job” and said that there should not be a change in the military leadership otherwise all his work would be a waste.

The rule of General Pervaiz Musharraf had made Pakistan’s army less valuable. One main event was when violence took place in central Islamabad to clear out a pro-Taliban mosque in the heart of the city. The army was ashamed and humiliated when Osama bin Laden was than found hiding next to the officer training school in 2011.

According to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, there has been a major cutback in violence since past nine months, especially in Karachi, which has always been a center of Taliban activity. The major credit goes to the army for launching an all-out campaign in June 2014 against the Taliban.