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Imran Khan’s Proposal To Defer Appointment Of New Pak Army Chief Till Fresh Elections Shows His Desperation: Govt

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LAHORE, Sept 13: The Pakistan government on Tuesday said ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal to defer the appointment of the new army chief till fresh elections shows his desperation as he realised that polls before Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement in November is impossible.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Khan is trying to open the “doors of negotiation with the military establishment” to find a way back to power.

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“On one side, Khan is attacking the military establishment and on the other hand, he wants to open the doors of negotiations or dialogue as well,” he told a private TV channel.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb in a tweet said Khan is only concerned about returning to power. “He can’t see (that) Pakistan is drowned (because of floods) and people are suffering as he is desperate to get power.”

Khan on Monday said Bajwa should be given an extension until the new government is elected, while reiterating calls for early elections.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is poised to pick the new army chief ahead of the retirement of the incumbent army chief, Bajwa, by the end of November.

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“How can a fugitive with just 85 seats appoint a new army chief?,” Khan asked during an interview to Dunya news channel, in a veiled attack on Sharif, also President of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz) party.

Addressing a public rally in Faisalabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Sunday, Khan alleged that the federal government was afraid of fair elections and delaying the polls until the appointment of the new army chief.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — second leading party in the nine-party coalition government led by the PML (N)’s Sharif — hinted at “no further extension to Gen Bajwa”.

“Imran wanting chief’s selection deferred until after polls means pleading for extension (to the tenure of Gen Bajwa). Is it a change of heart or what?” PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar tweeted on Tuesday.

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The PPP leader further said: “Extension (to the army chief) was wrong, is wrong, will be wrong. No one is indispensable. No one will ever be indispensable.”

General Bajwa is set to retire in late November. The next general elections are scheduled after the completion of the tenure of the Shehbaz Sharif-led government in August 2023.

Babar further tweeted: “First Imran said COAS appointment not his issue. Then he said the senior most general should be made chief. Then, Sharif & Zardari shouldn’t appoint a chief. Now he’s pleading with Sharif & Zardari to give extension to Bajwa until after polls — Is it a U-turn or what?”

Babar said Khan’s somersault on army chief posting means – signalling to patch up, desperation in face of disqualification realisation that polls before Bajwa’s retirement impossible and thus no chance for him to appoint chief or a total loss of sense after loss of power.

Bajwa has held the top post of the Pakistan Army for six years. He was initially appointed in 2016, but after three years tenure, the then government of Imran Khan in 2019 extended his service for another three years.

The appointment of army chief is the sole prerogative of the prime minister. The upcoming appointment of a new army chief is in the headlines for all wrong reasons.

When Khan was in power, the opposition accused him of trying to bring an army chief of his choice, who could support his alleged agenda of victimising opposition leaders.

Since he lost power, the equation has changed and now Khan is saying that the coalition government wants to install an army head of its choice to protect looted wealth and steal general elections.

Pakistan had been directly ruled for about half of its history by military generals. PTI


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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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