PM Office mulls over new army chief, Qureshi says no objections

A meeting was held the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday as the summary for the appointment of new army chief was received, which contained five names, media reports said.

With the government hoping that President Arif Alvi won’t create any hurdles in the process, as PTI senior leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said the president respected the constitution and they did not have any objections on any of the names.

It is reported that federal ministers Khawaja Asif, Rana Sanaullah, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and others participated in the meeting. The summary mentions the names of Lt-Gen Asim Munir, Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt-Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt-Gen Nauman Mahmood and Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed.

The term of the incumbent Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is ending on Nov 29, but the appointment of new chief is likely to take place before Nov 27, the day when one of the candidates is going to retire.

Earlier, Khawaja Asif in a statement had said that the appointment process would start on Monday with the new chief to be appointed on Tuesday or Wednesday. “The government cannot ignore [the] importance of army in the system,” he added.

Sources say the ruling alliance had completed consultations on the issue and was on the same page with the military establishment.

The role of President Dr Arif Alvi has come to the limelight in the appointment process as some media reports claimed that he could hold the notification for 25 days. However, Alvi last week had said that he did not have powers to object to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s powers and would execute the same in letter and spirit.

And now Qureshi too has confirmed the reports as he also critical of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for saying that Imran Khan’s long march was designed to make the appointment controversial and that the president would face the consequences in case of any unconstitutional action,

 “The procedure for appointing the new army chief is following its constitutional path. Once the summary is moved, the prime minister will use his mandated powers to select the person best suited to the interests of the country and the institution,” he added.

“It is the last chance for the president and he would have to bear any consequence for any disorder. As long as Mr Arif Alvi’s role is concerned, his test has been taken before whether he will stay loyal to Pakistan, its Constitution, its nation and democracy or will he fulfil his friendship with [Imran] Khan sahib,” he stated on Saturday.

Similarly, Special Assistant to PM on Law and Justice Irfan Qadir said President Alvi could not hold the summary as under Article 243 of the Constitution the appointment of chief of the army staff was solely a function of federal government and not the president.

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