Only prime minister can appoint army chief, determine merit: Aitzaz

Noted lawyer 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.

He was commenting on the reports that President Arif Alvi may withhold or return the summary sent to him by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif about the appointment of Lt-Gen Asim Munir as the new Chief of Army Staff.

The prime minister, meanwhile, has also picked Lt-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

It is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that the two most-senior lieutenant generals as the four-star generals.

Aitzaz said the important appointment shouldn’t be made controversial. Political differences aside, only the prime minister enjoys the constitutional powers [on this subject], he noted.

It would be good if all the people join the same page, the PPP leader said. “Objections will trigger a new debate which is not going to produce anything,” he remarked.

These remarks came as Alvi has reached Lahore to meet Imran at his Zaman Park residence with the visit planned to discuss the matter of promotions in military.

Senior party leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and others are also participating in the meeting as the PTI tries to finalise their stance. There is a difference of opinion as some leaders calling for accept the government decision while others suggesting an opposite course of action.

On Wednesday, Imran said Alvi would make a decision on the much-awaited appointment in military after consulting him.

Imran said he was in touch with the president about the summary, as many have feared that the president may withhold or return the document back to the Prime Minister’s Office.

He made these remarks during an interview with the ARY News. “Won’t my party’s president contact me?” Imran questioned.

“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.

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