Pakistan Army chief will be appointed next month, says defence minister Asif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said general elections will be held as scheduled in 2023, while a new army chief will be appointed next month in accordance with the law and the Constitution.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is poised to choose a new army chief before incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa retires at the end of November.
Last month, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said General Bajwa should be extended one more time until a new government is elected, and reiterated calls for early elections.
“Imran Khan didn’t think right and was scared as November was fast approaching,” Asif said.
The minister said that Bajwa’s replacement has yet to be decided, although the names of five lieutenants have been brought up for consideration, he said.
Bajwa held the highest post of the Pakistani Army for six years.
He was originally appointed in 2016, but after three years in office, Khan’s then government in 2019 extended his mandate for another three years.
“Anyone of those general staff officers or someone not mentioned on the list can be appointed,” he said, adding that all three-star generals are eligible. for the position of commander-in-chief of the army.
Asif also targeted Khan for repeatedly criticizing the armed forces for staying away from politics, after the former prime minister sarcastically said the military establishment was “neutral”.
“Imran Khan acted hypocritically and lied about Pakistan’s security forces. But our mission is to stand with the Army,” he asserted.
Khan, the president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), called for the ‘Haqeeqi Azadi March’ (true freedom march) during a meeting held at his Bani Gala residence here on Monday to urge the dissolution of the State. Establish an association and announce new elections in the country.
Party workers said Khan would announce the extended march any time after October 9, the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, according to the Express Tribune.
The 70-year-old politician turned cricketer came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but failed miserably to tackle the fundamental problem of keeping commodity prices in check. .
He was voted no-confidence through a vote of no-confidence in Congress in April.
The appointment of army chief is the sole prerogative of the prime minister and perhaps the only time his ruling has been accepted by the powerful army without any ‘ifs and buts’.
The upcoming appointment is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. When Khan took power, the opposition accused him of trying to bring in an army commander of his choice who could support his alleged agenda of victimizing opposition leaders. core.
Since he lost power, the equation has changed and now Khan is saying that the coalition government wants to install a military chief of their choice to protect looted wealth and steal the general election. .
Regardless of the political implications of rival rhetoric, the reality is that an army commander rarely silently witnesses domestic political games.
The country has been ruled directly for about half of its history by military generals.
The powerful military, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its more than 75 years of existence, has so far wielded considerable power in foreign policy and security matters.


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