- Khawaja Asif says appointment process to start on Monday.
- Defence minister says it will be finalised in a week.
- Change of command ceremony would be held on Nov 29, he adds.
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the name of the new chief of army staff (COAS) would come out by Tuesday or Wednesday, The News reported Saturday.
Speaking during the Geo News programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath”, the defence minister said that the process army chief’s appointment will start on Monday.
During the show, the PML-N leader said that the change of command ceremony would be held on November 29. He said the long march would suffer a serious blow the day the appointment decision was made.
COAS 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.
‘Will implement PM’s advice’
A day earlier, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar 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.
President Alvi also 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 army chief, the president said he could not create hurdles in the much-anticipated process, sources told Geo News.
“I do not have the legal authority to stop the prime minister’s advice; I have never interfered in state affairs,” President Alvi stressed.
His statement came after PTI chief 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.
Next two days
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the matter of the next army chief’s appointment would be settled in a day or two.
“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,” he said.
“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,” said the interior minister.
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.