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Saturday, February 04 2023

Islamabad: Pak political parties not to create controversy over new Army chief

Pak political parties
Photo Credit : IANS
Islamabad: The new Pakistan Army chief is now expected to be controversy-free as the PTI seems to have decided not to make the issue of incoming Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) controversial, whereas Nawaz Sharif has too learnt the lesson of compromising seniority for the sake of a “loyal” Army chief, according to a media report.

Sharif and other PMLN leaders have now realised through their own experiences and what history shows that no matter who you select as Army chief, expecting loyalty from him is flawed, The News reported.

It has been admitted now that ignoring seniority for political reasons has hardly worked in the past for any chief executive, including Nawaz Sharif.

“The chief always belongs to the Army,” a PMLN source said, adding that Nawaz Sharif has given his mind to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during their recent meetings in London, where the premier had rushed for some pressing reasons, The News reported.

This time, Shehbaz Sharif will place more emphasis on seniority in the appointment of a new Army chief. Senior officers will have a better chance of getting the top two four-star military positions: Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The process of initiating these appointments will likely start after November 18. Still, even if the government decides to make these appointments in the next few days, the seniority-cumulative fitness rule would not affect the “decision” of the PMLN. Before these appointments are announced, the PMLN will not like to discuss the issue in public, The News reported.

Till a few weeks ago, PTI chief Imran Khan had his reservations about one of the lieutenant generals vying for the top military position. However, not only Imran Khan, but all other PTI leaders have stated that they will support whoever is appointed as Army chief. Khan, for purely political reasons, is now only questioning Nawaz Sharif’s competence in choosing a new Army chief.

This situation is encouraging for the reason that the new Army chief will not be unnecessarily dragged into politics by any side for their political gains.

Regarding the London meetings held between Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, it was decided to ignore political commentary and public discussions on the new Army chief. It was also agreed to avoid those suggesting an extension to the appointment of the incumbent Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has already announced his retirement by the end of this month, The News reported.

A source said that demands or suggestions like the dissolution of the present government and the National Assembly, the holding of early elections, the installation of an interim government for six months, etc. were ruled out at the London deliberations.

Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying that no compromise will be made on this issue even if the government is removed or any other extreme step is taken.

The situation for the PMLN’s top leadership was tense until early last week, but now the reasons for their tension have subsided, the report said.

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