Merit-based appointments

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ACCORDING to media reports, after holding a series of meetings in London, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif cat

egorically stated that the army chief’s appointment would be decided constitutionally and the senior-most officer would be appointed as the next chief of the Pak Army.

It has also been reported that London meeting decided to prioritize merit for the coveted appointment and as per Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif a decision about the appointment would be made after consultations when the constitutional process starts.

The purported choice to make the senior-most general as the next Army Chief is being cited as the merit-based decision but PTI leader Imran Khan has different views about the merit claiming that Mian Nawaz Sharif would never allow the appointment on merit and instead would go for the one who could shield his ‘corruption’.

The differing approach to what constitutes merit is, in fact, making the appointment controversial unnecessarily for the sake of political differences.

The Government has a point if the principle of senior-most to be promoted is applied as all those to be included in the panel (to be considered for promotion by the Prime Minister) would surely be eligible to become the COAS as all of them reached at this stage in a fair and transparent process of promotions pursued by the defence forces.

The claim of the PTI that Nawaz Sharif would never let the COAS to be appointed on merit is not supported by history as the PML(N) government was toppled by the one who was selected by MNS himself.

It is also generally said and rightly so that whoever is selected, the first priority for the Army Chief is his country and then his institution and not the Government that appointed him.

What PTI considers as merit is viewed by others as an attempt to get the party’s favourite appointed to the enviable post for the sake of convenience of governance in case the party returns to power after the general election.

It would be unfortunate and unjust to the next COAS to make his appointment controversial for petty politics and, therefore, let the process be completed as per laid down procedure.

 

 

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