- Ruling coalition leaders back PM Shehbaz to appoint new COAS.
- PDM chief Fazl, PM Shehbaz discuss army chief’s appointment.
- COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa to retire later this month.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has started consultations with the senior leadership of ruling parties prior to the appointment of the new army chief, sources said Thursday, as the date for incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement nears.
The allied parties have fully mandated the premier for making the appointment as per set procedures and traditions, the sources added.
According to sources, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman telephoned the prime minister to inquire about his health.
During the telephone conversation, the two leaders exchanged views on the situation in the country and the appointment of the new army chief, the sources said.
Sources said the Maulana threw his weight behind PM Shehbaz, saying he should appoint the new army chief as per the set procedure.
Sources said a majority of the ruling coalition leaders termed the army chief’s appointment an administrative and discretionary power of the prime minister.
PPP and JUI-F leadership fully authorised PM Shehbaz Sharif to appoint the new army chief as per his wishes.
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is also in Islamabad currently, and according to sources, he is likely to meet JUI-F chief Fazl and PM Shehbaz soon.
The federal cabinet sources said that permission was never obtained from the cabinet for the appointment of an army chief in the past. This is the prerogative of the prime minister, added the sources.
Some ministers said no fingers would be pointed from any quarter if approval was obtained from the federal cabinet because approval of any important appointment is obtained from the cabinet in the light of the Supreme Court’s orders.
However, other ministers did not agree to the suggestion and stressed solely relying on the prime minister for the appointment of a new chief of the army staff.
Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif earlier this week clarified the PML-N had no favourite name for the army chief’s appointment, The News reported.
Speaking with journalists outside the parliament, the defence minister — when asked about the reports of a deadlock between PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari over the name of the next army chief — said that consultations over the appointment have not yet been held and, therefore, there was no question of a deadlock.
In response to media queries, APP quoted Khawaja Asif as saying: “The process for the appointment of new COAS will start from November 18-19 and the nominations will be shared by the Pakistan Army.”