File photo of PDM leaders at a press conference.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has “finally” started consultations with the senior leadership of ruling alliance, the PDM, on the appointment of new army chief, insiders revealed on Thursday, as the date of General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement nears.

The allies have “fully” mandated the premier for the “appointment according to constitution, set procedures and traditions,” they added.

It is learnt that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman telephoned the prime minister to inquire about his health.

During the conversation, they exchanged views on the situation in the country and the appointment of new army chief, insiders continued.

They said the Maulana threw his weight behind PM Shehbaz, saying he should appoint the new army chief as per the set procedure.

They said a majority of the ruling coalition leaders termed the army chief’s appointment an administrative and discretionary power of the prime minister.

The PPP and the JUI-F leadership fully authorised PM Shehbaz to appoint the new army chief “as he wishes.”

CABINET CONSULTATION: Former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is also in Islamabad currently, and according to insiders, he is likely to meet Maulana Fazal and PM Shehbaz soon.

The federal cabinet sources, meanwhile, 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, they added.

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 favoured the prime minister for the appointment of a new chief of the army staff.

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