PM Imran will hold consultation on new army chief when time comes: President Alvi

Published February 15, 2022
President Dr Arif Alvi sits down for an exclusive interview with DawnNewsTV's Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV
President Dr Arif Alvi sits down for an exclusive interview with DawnNewsTV's Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV

President Dr Arif Alvi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not undertaken any consultation regarding the appointment of the new army chief with him, adding that he (prime minister) would "definitely do [it] when the time comes".

The president expressed these views during an interview with DawnNewsTV's Adil Shahzeb, scheduled to be aired later today. His comments come a day after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa held rare same-day talks with President Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Although the army chief’s meeting with the prime minister took place on the sidelines of the apex committee on Afghanistan’s session, it is rare for an army chief to meet both, the head of the state and the head of the government, on the same day.

During the interview, Shahzeb asked President Alvi if PM Imran had initiated consultations on the matter of appointing the new COAS, noting that the premier had last month said that no decision had been taken.

The president replied in the negative, saying: "No, [the PM has not consulted me] but I think he will definitely [do] when the time comes.”

Shahzeb then pointed out that a column was published in an Urdu daily which claimed that the premier had gotten two important summaries signed by the president in regards to parliament and an "important personality" and that "no one knew what was the content of those orders".

But the president said that he was not aware of any such development, adding that "nothing like that [the PM getting documents signed from me and keeping them] had happened because whatever I sign becomes public,” Alvi said.

Gen Bajwa's tenure will be up in November. Last month, PM Imran had said he had so far not thought about an extension in the army chief's tenure.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Gen Bajwa's tenure was extended for three years by the prime minister in Aug 2019, just three months before he was set to retire.

The extension was taken up by the Supreme Court, which after much debate had allowed the COAS to retain his position for six months and asked the government to legislate on the matter in that time. The legislation on this matter was passed in Jan 2020, allowing the premier to extend the army chief's tenure once.

Alvi concerned about rise in terrorist incidents

During the interview, the president also said that he was concerned about the recent terrorist incidents in Balochistan.

He also talked about Monday's meeting with Gen Bajwa during which the two discussed recent terrorism incidents in the country.

“Gen Bajwa shared different reasons, including how the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan has led to a situation where weapons such as night-vision goggles and guns have reached the terrorists,” he said.

He also gave his views on the opposition's plan to move a no-trust motion against the PTI government in the National Assembly.

President Alvi said that it was not an issue to be debated and he had been hearing such things since 2018. “It is waste of time which can instead be spent on [more] positive and substitutive talk,” he said, adding the government was here to stay and was not going anywhere.

The president also strongly condemned the recent lynching in Punjab's Khanewal district, stating that such things should not happen.

However, he appeared to get worked up when asked whether the government was responsible for stopping such incidents from happening.

He said that the government should not be held accountable for everything, adding that the public also had a role to play in stopping such incidents.

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