New army chief will be revealed by next week: Khawaja Asif

Published November 18, 2022
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. —Reuters/File
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. —Reuters/File

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday said the next army chief would be appointed by next week.

In an interview with Geo News show "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath", Asif said: "The process will start rolling on Monday and hopefully the decision of this whole matter will be before you by next week and the new army chief's name will be revealed."

The defence minister also lashed out at PTI chief Imran Khan for making the process controversial and casting "aspersions" on the candidates for the next army chief.

"No politician has made the kind of allegations on the army leadership as Imran Khan has."

Earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the matter of the next army chief's appointment would be settled in a "day or two".

In an interview with Geo News show 'Naya Pakistan', Sanaullah said: "I believe the prime minister has completed this process (of consultation about the army chief appointment) and will bring it to paper, today or tomorrow or the next two days, [it] takes no time."

Upon further questioning, the interior minister seemingly reproached the interviewer and said: "I will also request you that this is a matter of a day or two so don't ask questions which can lead to unnecessary speculation," adding that in his opinion there "is not a lot of time left to this decision and it will come before you".

Sanaullah said that a further delay in the matter would not be "appropriate" and the next army chief would be appointed in the next two days.

The interior minister also alleged that the purpose of the PTI's march to Islamabad was the army chief's appointment, rather than snap elections. "The long march is not really present anywhere — it's only on the media," he added.

Zardari against 'politicising' appointment

Earlier today, former president Asif Zardari said that he strongly believed in the procedure laid out for promotions in the army.

Commenting on the appointment of the next army chief, the PPP co-chairman added that all three-star generals were equal and fully qualified.

“The army chief’s appointment should not be politicised at any cost,” he said, adding that making the process political would harm the institution.

Zardari said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make the decision about the next army chief in accordance with the law.

Imran claims Nawaz wants to influence pick

Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan alleged that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wanted to influence the appointment of the next army chief.

"The army chief is a professional soldier [but] Nawaz tries turning that person into the Punjab police chief. I know Nawaz will tell the army chief to somehow get rid of Imran Khan," he said, adding that the PML-N leader was not "used to playing with a neutral umpire".

Imran also claimed that Nawaz would urge the new army chief to wrap up the litany of corruption cases against him and not hold elections until he was sure he could win.

Separately, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that President Arif Alvi would fulfil his constitutional responsibility in the appointment of the army chief.

“Let me just clarify that whatever step the president takes will have complete backing from Imran Khan,” he tweeted.

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