ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar Friday called on President Dr Arif Alvi and conveyed to him a special message concerning the appointment of the new army chief and ending the deadlock on the country’s constitutional matters.
During the meeting at the President House, matters concerning the economy and finance also came under discussion.
The minister also briefed the president on various steps taken by the government to provide relief to the general public, particularly the underprivileged population and flood-affected people.
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi has said that he will follow through with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s advice on the next army chief’s appointment.
In a conversation with his aides about the appointment of the new chief of the army staff (COAS), the president said he could not create hurdles in the much-anticipated process, sources told Geo News Friday.
“I do not have the legal authority to stop the prime minister’s advice; I have never interfered in the state affairs,” President Alvi stressed.
President Alvi’s statement came after PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who has time and again called for the appointment of the army chief on “merit”, said his party will sit back and watch as the government decides to appoint the next army chief.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the incumbent army chief, is set to retire later this month and he has ruled out an extension in his tenure — and so has the military.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the matter of the next army chief’s appointment would be settled in a day or two.
In an interview with Geo News Naya Pakistan host Shahzad Iqbal, Sanaullah said: “I believe the prime minister has completed this process (of consultation about the army chief appointment) and will bring it to paper, today or tomorrow or the next two days, [it] takes no time.”
Sana added: “I will also request you that this is a matter of a day or two so don’t ask questions which can lead to unnecessary speculation,” adding there “is not a lot of time left to this decision and it will come before you”.
Sanaullah said that a further delay in the matter would not be “appropriate” and the next army chief would be appointed in the next two days.
The interior minister also alleged that the purpose of PTI’s march to Islamabad was the army chief’s appointment, rather than snap elections. “The long march is not really present anywhere — it’s only in the media,” he added.
In response, PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the president would fulfil his constitutional duty when it comes to the crucial appointment. “Let me make it clear, whatever the president decides, it will have Imran Khan’s complete support,” he added.
Before consulting the ruling partners, PM Shehbaz approached PMLN Quaid Nawaz Sharif and 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 had started consultations with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders for the coveted slot. The allied parties have fully mandated the premier for making the appointment as per set procedures and traditions. According to them, PDM chief Fazlur Rehman telephoned the prime minister to inquire after him.
During the 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.
The PPP and JUI-F leadership fully authorised PM Shehbaz Sharif to appoint the new army chief as per his wishes.
Meanwhile, President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Asif Ali Zardari Friday said the matter of appointment of army chief should not be politicised, as it will harm the institution.
“We strongly believe in promotion system in the Pakistan Army and all three-star generals are equal and fully qualified to head the army,” he said in a statement.
“The army chief will be appointed by the prime minister as per the law,” he added.
Zardari also met a PMLN delegation headed by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar Thursday night in which matters concerning the army chief’s appointment, the country’s political and economic situation and PTI’s long march came under discussion.
The PML-N delegation conveyed a special message of former prime minister and PML-N Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to Zardari. The PML-N delegation included Minister for Aviation and Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also present.
Moreover, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain Friday said the appointment of the army chief should be above politics.
Talking to journalists upon arrival from Saudi Arabia, he said the criteria set by the Constitution and the law for the appointment of army chief should be followed. He said politicians should not make the appointment controversial through their rhetoric. “Politics is the name of restraint but not of confrontation,” said the PML-Q leader.
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