With just under two months left for the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to retire, there is much speculation of nomination of his successor given that the head of the Pakistan Army is seen as a critical actor not just in the field of defence and security but also politics of the country.
General Bajwa has repeatedly claimed that the Pakistan Army will not indulge in politics of the country, however this remains disbelieving given recent developments in the country with the judiciary once again flipping to give relief to the Sharifs.
President Dr Arif Alvi chipped in on the issue stating that appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) should be made by consensus in an interview with journalist Asma Shirazi on Aaj TV.
"It's better if the new army chief's name is given following extensive consultation to ensure consensus. With respect to the army chief's appointment, consultations have also been held in the past," he said, questioning if only the government's right to consultation is mentioned in the Constitution.
To support his thesis, he claimed that the National Assembly had approved a law to extend Gen Bajwa’s terms after the Supreme Court of Pakistan had called for a suitable law. “The law must have been introduced in the Parliament after closure was reached during a consultation,” said Alvi.
The prime minister asserted that the appointment of the next army chief — upcoming in November — will be done as per the Constitution. “It [the appointment] has a process in the law and Constitution and the decision will be taken according to that.” The Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif that anyone from among the five nominated names from the panel could be appointed as the next chief of army staff. The process is expected to commence by end of October of beginning of November
According to Article 243 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the president appoints the services of chiefs on the recommendation of the prime minister.
While the President has to stick to the choice of the prime minister, President Arif Alvi who is appointed by the opposition PTI has demonstrated that he could stand up against the present PML N government.
Controversial Legacy - Army Chiefs Appointment
Ironically the selection of army chiefs in the past by Pakistan’s Prime Ministers has invariably worked against them reports the Dawn.
PPP leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto selected Gen Zia ul Haque over several senior generals thinking that he would be loyal to him who in turn launched a coup and hung Mr Bhutto later.
During his three terms as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif appointed at least four chiefs and clashed with all says the Dawn while Gen Musharraf who was his own appointee launched a coup against Nawaz in 1999 summarises the Dawn.
Gen Bajwa, whom Nawaz Sharif holds responsible for his removal, was also appointed by him, superseding some other senior officers.
Mr Imran Khan gave an extension to Bajwa but now accuses him of ousting him from power.
Clearly Pakistan’s political circles are set to be abuzz in the coming days with two issues – the audio leaks revealing former Prime Minister Khan and the PTI leaders attempts to manipulate the issue of cypher alleging US intervention in removal of their government and appointment of the Army Chief.