- Process to appoint army chief to begin soon, Khawaja Asif says.
- Sitting PM’s discretion to appoint anyone from nominees, he says.
- “All three-star generals are eligible for this [post],” minister adds.
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said Wednesday that anyone from among the five nominated names could be appointed as the next chief of army staff.
In a press conference, Asif announced that the process would either start by the end of this month or the beginning of the next and that it will be done in line with the law and Constitution.
Asif added that it is the discretion of the sitting prime minister to pick any name forwarded by the Ministry of Defence.
The defence minister said that in the past, names other than the five suggested have also been chosen for the military chief’s position.
Speaking on the appointment of the army chief on the basis of seniority, the defence minister said: “All three-star generals are eligible for this.”
The minister also commented on the probability of the next general elections and said that polls will be held as per schedule.
Taking a jibe at PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s apprehension over the appointment of the military’s top brass, Asif said that the former premier is anxious about November approaching, but the month will pass by peacefully.
“Imran Khan proved that he was not eligible for the prime minister’s position,” he said, adding that it’s people like him who come into power when the Results Transmission System (RTS) stops working.
“Imran Khan bites the hand that feeds him. For as long as Khan was in power, he was indebted to someone; and look how he talks today,” Asif said, adding that Khan asks for forgiveness when meeting “them” but flares up during his rallies.
The defence minister went on to say that Khan talks about cases being pardoned by the Punjab government and questioned which of their [PML-N] cases have been pardoned.
“He should list one case of ours which has been pardoned. We know that he sent his message to Punjab through the President of Pakistan Arif Alvi,” the minister said.
It should be noted that the present Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa will be completing his extended term in November this year. He was appointed in the year 2016.
Fawad slams Asif
Reacting to Asif’s press conference, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said that the minister was “Pakistan’s national security disaster.”
“He has Imran Khan phobia. A mentally-paralysed person has been appointed as the defence minister,” the former information minister said.
Fawad further added that Asif “badmouths Khan when surrounded by government security.”
He added that the minister neither talks about Kashmir nor speaks on Pakistan’s defence.