New army chief appointment: Letter to initiate process received from PM Office, says Asif

Federal Defense Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said the process to appoint the new chief of army staff (COAS) has formally kicked off after a letter seeking nominations was sent by the Prime Minister Office to his ministry.

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Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) Asif warned against politicking on an appointment critical for the security of the nation amid reports that President Dr Arif Alvi may stall sanction over final name lest it matched the name favored by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

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

The minister said that the letter has been sent to the military’s high command, the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and now the process is expected to be completed by November 25, nearly four days before the incumbent, General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire.

“Within two to three days, the new COAS of the country will be appointed,” he stated.

Khawaja Asif also slammed former prime minister and PTI Chief Imran.

“Bringing Imran Khan into power was highly unfortunate for Pakistan,” he said.

Referring to Imran’s Toshakhana scandal, he said that More or less every head of state and government had retained some of the gifts they received from other countries while in power.

But Imran, he accosted, was the one who sold the priceless gifts.

Asif also bashed Imran over his performance.

“Despite having unrestrained support from the state institutions, he failed to do anything,” Asif said, adding, “For the sake of power this man has been harming the institutions.”

“PTI Chairman has been instigating the state institutions for unconstitutional moves,” he said while referring to the offer Imran made to the army chief to stop the no-confidence motion.

He appreciated the decision taken by state institutions within constitutional limits.

The defence minister said that all institutions were on a single page and that page was the Constitution and law.

Responding to Imran Khan’s refrain that politicians and bad governance over the past 30 years were to blame for the current ills of the country, Asif reminded that a significant chunk of time in the past 30 years was spent either directly or indirectly under the military and that the blame was not for politicians to bear alone.

He also pointed to the mistakes 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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