No pressure, no deadlock on appointment of army chief: Khawaja Asif

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that the notification for the appointment of the chief of army staff would be issued by November 26, three days before retirement of General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The defence minister’s statement comes hours after he informed the National Assembly that the General Headquarters (GHQ) has been apprised of his ministry receiving Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s letter in relation to the new chief of army staff’s appointment.

“The process will take two to three days to complete. The excitement will end, after which we will deal with Imran Khan,” he had said earlier.

“The appointment process for the highest offices in the Pakistan Army has commenced today,” the minister said during a talk show.

“The prime minister, in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Defence, sought the names and dossiers for the appointment of the next army chief. The ministry has asked the GHQ to send the dossiers along with the nominations.”

The PML-N leader lamented that mass hysteria is triggered over the appointment of the army chief in Pakistan, unlike any other country in the world. 

“Once the matter is settled, the political leaders should join hands, sit together, and talk so that the appointment is not politicised in the future,” he added.

When asked why PTI Chairman Imran Khan chose November 26 as the date for the long march, the defence minister thought that the former premier might be thinking that President Dr Arif Alvi would not approve the recommendation of PM Shehbaz for the high-ranking office in the Pakistan Army.

“Imran Khan has also absolved the US of the charge of a foreign conspiracy. He has said that the establishment did not conspire [against his government]. However, he still maintains that they [the establishment] could have averted the conspiracy to topple his government,” Asif said.

The defence minister said that Khan has legitimised the vote of no-confidence with his new statement by letting go of the US and the establishment.

He said that the PTI chief made a business out of the Toshakhana gifts. “A gift is given to honour you. But, this man [Khan] sells his honour,” he stressed.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah will determine whether Khan’s helicopter will land in Islamabad or not, he added. 

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