Islamabad: The confusion over the appointment of the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) continues unabated, with the Interior Minister claiming that the consultation process over who would be picked for the position of chief is now “over”.
Speaking in an interview with a local news channel, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday claimed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has completed the “consultation process” over the appointment of the new COAS. He said that the announcement in this regard would be made in a couple of days.
Incumbent COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire on November 29. Appointed in 2016 by the PML-N and given an extension in tenure in 2019 by the PTI, General Qamar Javed has made clear that he has no intentions of seeking another extension. He has already started bidding farewell by visiting various garrisons across Pakistan.
Earlier this week, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the government was not considering “any major change” in the Pakistan Army Act 1952 after news of the government’s plans for such amendments made headlines.
The Defence Minister explained that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a 2019 judgment, had asked to review relevant clauses of the Army Act. He added that the Supreme Court’s directions should be “complied with in due course”.
On Friday, he claimed that the process would start on Monday and, hopefully, the decision would be made by next week.
Speaking with a private channel, he lashed out at PTI Chairman Imran Khan for making the process controversial and casting “aspersions” on the candidates for the next army chief.
“No politician has made the kind of allegations on the army leadership as Imran Khan has,” he added.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan alleged that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wanted to “influence” the appointment of the next COAS.
He said that the army chief is a professional soldier [but] Nawaz tries turning that person into the Punjab police chief.
“I know Nawaz will tell the army chief to somehow get rid of Imran Khan,” he said, adding that the PML-N leader was not “used to playing with a neutral umpire”.
Separately, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that President Arif Alvi would fulfil his constitutional responsibility in the appointment of the army chief.
“Let me just clarify that whatever step the president takes will have complete backing from Imran Khan,” he tweeted.
آرمی چیف کی تقرری کے ضمن میں صدر مملکت اپنی آئینی ذمہ داری ادا کریں گے، صرف یہ واضع کر دوں صدر مملکت جو بھی قدم اٹھائیں گے اسے عمران خان کی مکمل حمائیت حاصل ہو گی
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 18, 2022