Pak Army submits names of six top Generals for COAS’s post

ISLAMABAD, Nov 23: The Pakistan Army has submitted the names of six of its top generals for the post of Army chief to succeed incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa, ending the suspense over the key appointment.

Gen Bajwa, 61, is scheduled to retire on November 29 after a three-year extension. He has ruled out seeking another extension.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a brief statement on Wednesday on  Twitter that it received the summary from the Ministry of Defence for the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC).

“The prime minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” according to the statement.

The Army also confirmed that it had sent the names of six top lieutenant generals for the appointments.

Although it did not mention the names, but it is believed that the six men include Lt Gen Asim Munir (currently Quarter Master General), Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza (Commander 10 Corps), Lt Gen Azhar Abbas (Chief of General Staff), Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood (National Defence University Presi­dent), Lt Gen Faiz Hamid (Commander Baha­walpur Corps), and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir (Com­mander Gujranwala Corps).

Two of them would be picked by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for promotion and appointment for the posts of COAS and CJCSC before November 29.

Sharif will send the summary to President Arif Alvi who will notify the appointments.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that the process of appointment of the next army chief will be completed by November 25.

On Monday, Gen Bajwa visited the Naval and Air Headquarters in Islamabad as part of his farewell visits. He also visited Rawalpindi Corps Headquarters and laid a floral wreath at the Martyrs’ Monument.

The CJCS is the highest authority in the hierarchy of the armed forces but the key powers including mobilisation of troops, appointments and transfers lie with the Chief of Army Staff which makes the person holding the post the most powerful in the military.

The powerful Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.

The recommendation of the Prime Minister is binding on the President but the latter can delay the appointment for some time. Some media reports showed that the President can hold the summary for the appointment for 25 days. However, the government official rejected the reports that the president could delay the appointment.

There has been extraordinary interest in the appointment of Bajwa’s successor as many believe ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s long march is linked to the change of command in the Army.

He has asked his supporters to gather in Rawalpindi on November 26, two days before Gen Bajwa hands over the baton to the new Army chief.

The debate over the appointment of the new chief has intensified since the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, confirmed last week that General Bajwa would doff off his uniform on November 29.

The debate is also linked to the current political stalemate stemming from Khan’s long march demanding early elections.

Political observers are of the view that one of the objectives of Khan’s long march is to influence the Army chief’s appointment even though Khan has denied such claims.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently paid a private visit to London where he consulted his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the issue and after his return, he took all coalition partners on board.

The role of President Alvi has come to the limelight in the appointment process as some media reports claimed that he could hold the notification for 25 days.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday advised President Alvi against creating any “sort of disorder” in the Army chief’s appointment.  (PTI)