Thursday, November 24, 2022

Pakistan's government-army standoff over the next military chief ends as the Prime Minister's office receives a list of names

Pakistan government-army stalemate over next military chief ends as PM's office gets list of names

SLAMABAD: The Shehbaz Sharif-led government in Pakistan confirmed Wednesday that it had received from the guard ministry a summary on the appointment of the following army boss, days before Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is expected to resign. The announcement laid to rest speculation, claims and counter claims about a deadlock between the public authority and the army over who might get what is arguably Pakistan's most important post after the excellent ministership once the incumbent bows out on November 29.

"The PM's office has received a panel of names for the posts of chairman, joint heads of staff board of trustees, and the head of army staff. The PM will take a decision on the appointments according to procedure," Sharif's office tweeted.

Past 12 PM, the Inter-Administrations Advertising said a rundown of names of senior generals had been shipped off the protection ministry. Neither the agency nor the PM's office mentioned the contenders - Lt Gen Asim Munir, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir - who are in request of rank.

Protection minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif said the PM would appoint Gen Bajwa's replacement ahead of leaving out traveling to Ankara on November 25. "The PM will leave on Friday evening. Thus, it will be settled before then," Asif said, pointing out that the interaction ought to never have involved public debate.

The minister refuted reports that the summary received by the public authority contained four names on which objections were raised. "That is incorrect," he said, requesting the media to avoid speculation.

After making the decision, the PM would advise President Arif Alvi to appoint the picked general as the following army boss. It remains to be checked whether the President would agree with the public authority's pick or send the proposal back for reconsideration.

All of this will play out against the backdrop of previous PM Imran Khan potentially resuming his long march in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on November 26, only three days before Gen Bajwa's retirement and possible a day after the appointment of his replacement.

PM Sharif has distanced himself from print and broadcast coverage since the start of November. Earlier this month, he unobtrusively left for a climate change conference in Egypt, then landed in London on a private excursion and stayed there for seven days prior to returning to the country.

On arrival, he was diagnosed with Coronavirus, in this way restricting his development to the PM's home. He is understood to have held meetings with individuals who matter in influencing the crucial decision.

Government sources said that before the protection ministry issued its summary, Gen Bajwa met Shehbaz and "all the matters were sorted out". His meetings with previous President Asif Ali Zardari and consultations with his exiled senior brother and previous PM Nawaz Sharif in London helped break the stalemate over the new appointments, they said.

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