ISLAMABAD: As process for the appointment of new army chief is likely to start on Monday (today), the government expressed the hope that President Dr Arif Alvi will not create any “hurdle” in the smooth process.
The term of the incumbent Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is ending on Nov 29, but the appointment of new chief is likely to take place before Nov 27, the day when one of the candidates is going to retire.
This endorses Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement a couple of days ago that the key appointment will be made on Tuesday or Wednesday.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Office told Dawn that the ministry of defence will initiate the summary for the appointment of new army chief before Nov 27.
Consultations between government, allies, establishment completed
Khawaja Asif in his statement had said that the appointment process will start on Monday while the new chief will be appointed on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“The government cannot ignore [the] importance of army in the system,” he had said.
A source in the ministry said it had been decided that the appointment will be made before Nov 27.
The source said that the government, its allies and the military establishment were on the same page on the issue as the consultation process among the three had been completed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently paid a private visit to London where he consulted PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on the issue and after his return he took all coalition partners on board.
The role of President Dr Arif Alvi has come to the limelight in the appointment process as some media reports claimed that he could hold the notification for 25 days.
However, PM’s spokesman Fahd Hussain while talking to Dawn ruled out the possibility of any such action by the president.
He said that under the Constitution the powers to appoint the new army chief rest with the prime minister and he will use his powers to select the best suited person for the slot.
“The procedure for appointing the new army chief is following its constitutional path. Once the summary is moved, the prime minister will use his mandated powers to select the person best suited to the interests of the country and the institution,” he added.
Regarding the role of the president, he said: “He [Mr Alvi] will also play his constitutional role as spelt out in the process.”
It may be mentioned that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday advised President Alvi against creating any “sort of disorder” in the army chief’s appointment.
“It is the last chance for the president and he would have to bear any consequence for any disorder. As long as Arif Alvi sahab’s role is concerned, his test has been taken before whether he will stay loyal to Pakistan, its Constitution, its nation and democracy or will he fulfil his friendship with [Imran] Khan sahib,” he added.
When contacted, Special Assistant to PM on Law and Justice Irfan Qadir said President Alvi could not hold the summary as under Article 243 of the Constitution the appointment of chief of the army staff was solely a function of federal government and not the president.
“This article clarifies that command and control of the army rests with the federal government and it has further been defined in articles 90 and 91 of the Constitution,” he added.
“[The] president cannot delay the summary and has to sign it at once,” he added.
Article 243 of the constitution says: “(1) The federal government shall have control and command of the armed forces. (2) Without prejudice the generality of the foregoing provisions, the Supreme Command of the armed forces shall vest in the president. (3) The president shall subject to law, have power--- (a) to raise and maintain the military, naval and air forces of Pakistan, and the reserves of such forces; and (b) to grant commission in such forces. (4) The president shall on the advice of the prime minister appoint---the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee; the Chief of Army Staff; the Chief of Naval Staff; and the Chief of Air Staff and shall also determine their salaries and allowances.”
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2022