New army chief appointment: Letter to kick off process received from PM Office: Asif

Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that the process to appoint the new Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) has officially begun after a letter seeking nominations was sent by the Prime Minister's Office to his ministry.

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Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) Asif warned against politicizing an appointment critical for the nation’s security amid reports that President Dr. Arif Alvi may delay the sanction on the final name, lest it matches the name favored by Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

Asif said the first stage of the process began after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wrote to the Ministry of Defence seeking the names of eligible candidates for the next chief of Pakistan’s powerful military.

The minister stated that the letter was sent to the military high command, the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and now the process is due to be completed by November 25, nearly four days before General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement.

“Within 2-3 days, the country’s new COAS will be appointed,” he said.

Khawaja Asif also denounced the former prime minister and chief of PTI Imran.

“Bringing Imran Khan to power was a great regret for Pakistan,” he said.

Referring to the Toshakhana scandal in Imran, he said that more or less each head of state and government retained some of the gifts they received from other countries during the time they were in government.

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Asif also criticised Imran for his performance.

“Despite the unconditional support of the state institutions, he did nothing,” said Asif, adding, “For the love of power, this man hurt the institutions.”

“PTI chief encouraged the institutions of the State to take unconstitutional measures,” he declared while referring to the offer made by Imran to the head of the army to put an end to the motion of censure.

He appreciated the decision taken by state institutions within the bounds of the Constitution.

The defence minister said that all institutions were one page long and that it was the Constitution and the law.

In response to Imran Khan’s refrain that politicians and bad governance over the last 30 years were to blame for the country’s current ailments, Asif reminded that a significant chunk of time in the past 30 years was spent either directly or indirectly under the army and that the fault was not to politicians to carry alone.

He also highlighted the errors made by the judiciary over the past 30 years.

“We will deal with Imran Khan after the appointment of the COAS,” Defense Minister added.

 

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