Pakistani PM to appoint next army chief in November, Defense Minister Asif says
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will appoint the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in November, according to Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
Apparently, Khawaja made the statement at a press conference on Saturday.
“Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fulfilled this political responsibility four times and Shehbaz will do the same in November,” Khwaja told reporters.
The minister also pointed his guns at former prime minister Imran Khan, who repeated that the government was blocking elections to appoint the army chief of his choice.
“He just wants to make the appointment of the army chief controversial. Politics is separate but institutions should not be controversial,” Khawaja chided.
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It is pertinent to note that current army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa is retiring on November 29 after the end of his three-year extension. The appointment of the army chief in Pakistan is a big deal as the army runs the coup-prone country behind the curtains.
While a democratic regime sits in Islamabad permanently, it is at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi that the major decisions are taken and transmitted to the executive.
Most governments in Pakistan tend to have an army chief who dictates actions. Bajwa was no less and on several occasions he undermined former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
However, Pakistani leader Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) tried to go against Bajwa, he was reduced to size and Shehbaz Sharif and his coalition government were brought to power.
Since then, Imran openly targets Sharif’s government and does not give an opportunity to go after Bajwa either.
As WION reported, at a public rally in Faislabad earlier this month, Imran said Sharif was trying to name his pawn because if a “patriotic army leader was named, he would ask them about their wealth. ill-gotten”.
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At the time, Khawaja retorted by saying, “Imran Khan made a false statement about the army chief during the rally. Many army chiefs have been appointed in Pakistan. The sanctity of certain institutions is for the security of Pakistan, Imran Khan should not play with the country for his own interests.”
Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing a petition regarding censorship of Imran Khan’s speeches, censured Imran Khan for his remarks on COAS appointment asking the Imran Khan’s consul to account.
(With agency contributions)
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