PM Office receives summary of army chief’s appointment

ISLAMABAD (INP): The Prime Minister’s Office Monday received the summary relating to the appointment of the next chief of army staff from the Ministry of Defence, sources said. The process to appoint the next head of the military has formally started as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is all set to retire on November 29 — and has also kick-started his farewell visits.
A meeting is also underway to discuss the names of the next army chief and the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, sources said, with high-ranking officials in attendance. PM Shehbaz is chairing the meeting with Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Law Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also present, the sources said.
Sources have added that the list includes five names of the senior-most military officials — Lt Gen Asim Munir, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood, Lt Gen Faiz Hamid. Once the PM’s Office approves the names for both coveted slots, the list will be forwarded to the President’s Secretariat for ratification. Following that, it will be sent back to the PM’s Office for an official announcement.
In a press conference last week, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari made it clear that if President Arif Alvi blocks the PM’s summary regarding the COAS appointment, it would need to be seen how he decides to go down in history — whether by upholding the Constitution or violating it and showing loyalty to his friend, in which case he will suffer the consequences. “If he opts to block the PM’s summary, it will have consequences,” FM Bilawal said. However, the PTI has stressed that the president will work in line with the law and not create hurdles in the process.
In conversation with journalists, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that President Alvi would not stop the summary for the appointment of a new chief of army staff. Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that the name of the new army chief would come out by “Tuesday or Wednesday”. Speaking to a private Tv channel, the defence minister said that the process army chief’s appointment will start on Monday.
During the show, the PML-N leader said that the change of command ceremony would be held on November 29. As the days got closer to Gen Bajwa’s retirement, before consulting the ruling partners on the crucial appointment, PM Shehbaz approached his brother, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif regarding the decision. In a meeting in London in early November, both the leaders agreed to appoint the military’s senior-most officer as the next army chief.
As he touched down in Pakistan after his London visit last week, the prime minister fell sick, but he started consultations with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders for the coveted slot. The allied parties had fully mandated the premier for making the appointment as per set procedures and traditions, sources said.
According to them, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman telephoned the prime minister to inquire about his health. During the telephone conversation, the two leaders exchanged views on the situation in the country and the appointment of the new army chief. Sources said Fazl threw his weight behind PM Shehbaz, saying he should appoint the new army chief as per the set procedure.
They said a majority of the ruling coalition leaders termed the army chief’s appointment an administrative and discretionary power of the prime minister. PPP and JUI-F leadership fully authorised PM Shehbaz Sharif to appoint the new army chief as per his wishes.