Notification of retirement is issued by MoD prior to appointment as per previous army chief selection process
ISLAMABAD: As November 29 approaches, the summary for the discharge of incumbent army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is yet to be issued by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) under Rule 12 of the Pakistan Army Act 1954.
Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that consultations on the army chief’s appointment will begin after November 18 or 19 and clarified that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had no ‘favourite’ for the position.
Speaking to journalists outside the parliament house, Asif had brushed aside the speculations about a deadlock between PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and former president PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari over the name of the next army chief.
He had said there was no question of a deadlock over the matter when the consultation has not even started yet.
However, ambiguity looms over the process for reasons beyond the rumoured impasse as the notification of retirement of the COAS remains to be issued.
According to a 2019 Supreme Court judgment concerning the extension of the COAS, the procedure whereby the then government had appointed General Qamar Javed Bajwa as army chief, had involved a multistep process.
First, a summary for the prime minister for the retirement of General Raheel Sharif was moved by the MoD on November 15, 2016. The premier gave his advice to the president to promote General Bajwa to the rank of General and approved the retirement of General Raheel Sharif on November 28, 2016.
It was only then that the MoD notified the promotion of General Bajwa and appointed him COAS on November 29, 2016.
Earlier this week, the PTI chief Imran Khan, while referring to the matter of the new army chief’s appointment, had accused the government of bringing changes to the Army Act “for its own benefit”. and added that all appointments made by the incumbent government were made for “personal benefits”.
However, while speaking to The Express Tribune official sources have dismissed the speculations saying that there is no such plan as the president could comfortably block any such amendment or ordinance before November 27.
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 Gen Bajwa would doff off his uniform on November 29 at the completion of his six-year tenure.
The debate is also linked to the current political stalemate stemming from former prime minister Imran Khan’s long march. Political observers are of the view that one of the objectives of Imran’s long march is to influence the army chief’s appointment though he has denied such claims.
Given the past practice, the ministry of defence will send a list of the top five generals to the Prime Minister’s Office for the appointment of chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the chief of the army staff. However, the prime minister can ask for more names if he is not satisfied with the list.
The summary for the appointments of key slots in the military will likely be moved closer to the retirement date of Gen Bajwa. The formal announcement is likely to be made only a few days before the change of command.
Following are the top five generals after Gen Bajwa: Lt-Gen Asim Munir, QuarterMaster General, Lt-Gen Sahir Shahmshad Mirza, Corps Commander Rawalpindi, Lt-Gen Azhar Abbas, Chief of General Staff, Lt-Gen Numan Mahmood, President National Defence University and Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed, Corps Commander Bahawalpur.