Friday June 02, 2023

Will PTI move SC to block new COAS appointment by Shehbaz?

Fawad Chaudhry says he has no information of any such consideration

September 23, 2022
—Facebook PTI
—Facebook PTI 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considering legal options, including approaching the apex court, to block the new army chief’s appointment by the incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a senior party leader told The News.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, however, when contacted, denied it and said he has no information of any such consideration. According to the senior PTI leader, the party does not want to give an opportunity to the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government to appoint a new Army Chief at end November. He said as has already been stated by PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a TV interview, appointment of new Army Chief should be deferred and left for the new government to decide.

On condition of not being named, the PTI leader confided that the party is considering legal options on how to delay this key military appointment till the new elections and arrival of the new government. He said the legal options include serious consideration of approaching the Supreme Court of Pakistan and such a move would only be made in November if things do not change.

Fawad Chaudhry, however, when asked whether the PTI is seriously considering approaching the top most court of the country to block Army Chief’s appointment by Shehbaz Sharif in November, said that to his information no such idea was discussed in any party meeting. When again asked if the party chairman had referred the matter of delaying the Army Chief’s appointment to his party’s legal minds, Chaudhry said no.

He said only discussion took place in the backdrop of PMLN leader and federal minister Khurram Dastgir’s statement that Nawaz Sharif will be consulted for the Army Chief’s appointment. He said in response to Dastgir’s statement, the PTI leaders issued statements on the subject, accordingly.

In his recent public meetings, Imran Khan has repeatedly said that the present government could not be given the right to appoint the Army Chief. In a private TV interview, Imran had said that though it is for the legal minds to see how it is legally possible, he wants the appointment of the new Army Chief to be deferred till next elections and the arrival of the new government. He also said that the new elected government should appoint the Army Chief.

A few weeks back, Imran had no issue with the appointment of a new Army Chief by the present government. In a TV interview, Khan had said that opposition has nothing to do with such appointments as the prime minister and the sitting government appoint Army Chief. There is no explanation what made Imran change his view on the Army Chief’s appointment and make it the focus of his new political agenda.

On the other side, the government is determined that it will use its constitutional authority for the appointment of COAS. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will make the appointment in November. While Imran Khan suggests delaying the appointment, the incumbent Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is reportedly not willing to continue beyond November 2022.

Legally speaking, it is the authority and discretion of the sitting prime minister to appoint the Army Chief. There is no legal option available to delay the appointment or defer it for an indefinite period.