Ending all the speculations, President Arif Alvi on Thursday evening signed the summary concerning the appointment of new army chief and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, reported different TV channels.
It followed his short visit to Lahore earlier in the day where he met PTI Chairman Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence and discussed the matters pertaining to the two appointments.
The day began with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s decision earlier in day to select Lt-Gen Asim as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Lt-Gen Sahir as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. As a consequence, a summary was sent to the President’s House for Alvi’s formal signature.
After the president signed the summary, the newly-elevated four-star generals, Gen Sahir and Gen Asim, held separate meetings with both the president and the prime minister.
Amid all the uncertainty, it was feared that Alvi might opt to withhold or return the summary which would have created a new issue, given the fact that the president has no legal or constitutional role in this matter.
However, the decision to sign the summary as better sense prevailed after all the political posturing.
In fact, Alvi had said last week that he as a president had no powers in the matter of appointing the new army chief and he would sign Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s advice.
But Imran on Wednesday told a TV channel that Alvi would consult him after receiving the summary, which triggered a new debate.
“I do not trust the intentions of Nawaz Sharif,” he said and added that the PML-N supremo wanted to bring such an army chief who would end his [Imran’s] politics as well as that of the PTI.
As Alvi left Lahore after meeting PTI chairman, Fawad Chaudhry had told reporters that the President’s House would issue a statement between 6:30 to 7pm in the evening about the stance on the summary concerning the new army chief’s appointment.
He said the meeting between Alvi and Imran lasted for 45 minutes as they discussed various constitutional and legal aspects of the issue.
Everything would be according to the law and the constitution, said Fawad who made a brief statement before media at Zaman Park and left the place without answering any questions.
Any refusal on the part of the president would have no legal or constitutional basis. That’s why even Aitzaz Ahsan – a vocal critic of the Sharif family – on Thursday said the prime minister was the sole authority to appoint the army chief, as PTI seemingly tries to hinder the process.
Not signing the prime minister’s summary would not result in any benefit, Aitzaz said, adding that one should avoid unconstitutional debate.
If the matter is considered in constitutional terms, only the prime minister can determine the merit, said the PPP leader.