Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be appointing the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) come the month of November, as per Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
Reportedly, Khawaja made the statement during a press conference on Saturday.
“Former premier Nawaz Sharif has fulfilled this political responsibility four times and Shehbaz will do the same in November,” Khwaja told the reporters.
The minister also trained his guns on former PM Imran Khan who has been iterating that the government is stalling elections to bring the army chief of choice.
“He just wants to make the Army Chief’s appointment controversial. Politics is separate but institutions should not be made controversial,” chided Khawaja.
It is pertinent to note that current Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa retires on November 29 after his three-year extension ends. The appointment of the Army chief in Pakistan is a big deal as the Army rules the coup-prone country from behind the curtains.
While a democratic regime sits in Islamabad at all times, it is the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi where the big decisions are taken and instructed to the executive.
Most governments in Pakistan tend to have an Army chief that dictates the actions. Bajwa was no less and on several occasions, he undermined former PM Imran Khan.
However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief attempted to go against Bajwa, he was cut to size, and Shehbaz Sharif and his coalition government was brought to power.
Since then, Imran has been openly targeting Sharif’s government and not leaving an opportunity to go after Bajwa as well.
As reported by WION, in a public rally in faislabad earlier this month, Imran stated that Sharif was trying to appoint his pawn because if a “patriotic Army Chief is appointed, he would ask them about their ill-gotten wealth”.
At the time, Khawaja had retorted by saying, “Imran Khan made wrong statement about the army chief at the rally. Many army chiefs were appointed in Pakistan. The sanctity of some institutions is for Pakistan’s security, Imran Khan should not play with the country for its own interests.”
Meanwhile, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice, Justice Athar Minallah while hearing a petition regarding the censoring of Imran Khan’s speeches, censured Imran Khan over his COAS appointment remarks asking Imran Khan’s consul to do some self-accountability.
(With inputs from agencies)
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