ISLAMABAD: The new army chief is expected to be appointed around November 20, it has been learnt.
Decision has been taken and, according to a credible source, seniority will get preference this time. The source has shared the name of the lieutenant general being promoted as a four-star general and appointed as army chief, but this newspaper avoids making it public for sensivities involved.
The Prime Minister’s Office will formally approach the defence authorities in a day or two for initiation of the process for the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
The defence authorities will move a panel of senior-most three-star general officers through a summary for the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is the competent authority to make these appointments in the defence services.
The source said the Prime Minister’s Office may receive the summary by November 18 or 19 following which the prime minister will approve the names for COAS and CJCSC offices. Verbal discussions, it is learnt, have already taken place between the authorities concerned.
It is said that the government will not wait for the last week of November for these appointments, which have become the focus of extraordinary discussion in politics and media like never before, primarily because of opposition leader Imran Khan’s weeks long campaign targeting these appointments.
Imran Khan has been propagating that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has no right to appoint the army chief because, Khan alleges, it is Nawaz Sharif who will actually decide the name of the next army chief. Khan has been saying how a convict and an absconder could appoint the army chief.
Khan initially suggested that the army chief should be appointed by the next elected government to be set up following general elections.
Khan had also suggested that the incumbent army chief should be given an extension until the new government takes over after the general elections.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as well as other top leaders of the ruling coalition rejected Imran Khan’s demand, and insisted that as per the law and the Constitution, it is the discretion of the prime minister to appoint the army chief.
Recently, the prime minister claimed that he was approached through a common friend by Imran Khan with a suggestion that the army chief should be appointed by consultation between them. Shehbaz said that he rejected Imran Khan’s proposal as the law and the Constitution empower the prime minister to make these appointments at his discretion.
To the disappointment of Imran Khan, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also made his retirement plan public. Addressing a security seminar in Islamabad recently, Gen Bajwa had announced that he was not interested in any further extension, saying he would be retiring by the end of this month.
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