PM to consult Nawaz on new COAS: minister

Federal Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir on Saturday said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make the decision on the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) in London after discussing the matter with PML-N supremo and former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire in the last week of November. The matter of the new chief’s selection has since caused a stir in political circles with the PTI and government coming to verbal blows on the matter.

The prime minister on Saturday arrived in London to attend state funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II.

At the invitation of the British government, the prime minister, during his visit to the United Kingdom, will represent Pakistan at the state funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II in London on September 19, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said in a statement.

Read more: PM Shehbaz leaves for England to attend queen's funeral

Without mentioning the name of PTI chairman and former premier Imran Khan, Dastgir maintained that no matter how many times anyone met with army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, PM Shehbaz would make the final decision.

Separately addressing a news conference in Islamabad, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the appointment of the army chief was a constitutional duty and the PTI chairman wanted to make the issue controversial.

The minister said former premier Imran had proposed that the tenure of the COAS be extended till the elections.

However, he added that the polls would be held in August next year and the appointment would take place in the coming November.

Asif further maintained that whatever Imran said did not matter, PM Shehbaz would fulfil his constitutional obligation of appointing the new army chief.

The minister added that neither had the process for extending the incumbent army chief’s tenure had been kicked off, nor was there any such suggestion on the cards.

He recalled that former prime minister Nawaz had appointed four army chiefs but had never made the issue subject to debate.

The minister further said politics would take place when the time came for it and there would be a great deal of it before the elections, but right now the government was ready for a ‘charter of economy’.

He added that politics could be set aside at this time, referring to the devastating floods that have wreaked havoc in the country.

Read SCO Summit: PM concludes Samarkand trip on ‘satisfactory note’

Criticising Imran, Asif said the PTI chief’s addiction to power was overcoming his senses and he was saying things in this situation that should not be uttered.

The minister claimed that the ousted premier did want the country’s flood victims to receive aid.

He added that Imran was hurting the country’s interests and during his four years in power, he had left nothing but inflation and corruption.

Asif noted that the country’s national security was linked to its economy.

He claimed that Imran had repeatedly launched verbal attacks on both the national and economic security of Pakistan.

“He [Imran] couldn’t cope with the dilemma of losing power and that has messed with his head,” he added.

To a question, the minister replied that court verdicts held great significance in terms of interpreting law.

He added that court judgments of the past must be seen in the present context.

“If they [past verdicts] were in contradiction with the Constitution and law, there must be reasons behind it,” he said.

Speaking about PM Shehbaz’s visit to Uzbekistan, Asif said the premier had held important beneficial meetings with other heads of state, particularly the Chinese president.

He added that his meetings with the leaderships of Russia and Turkey were also of great significance.

The minister said Russia had offered gas and wheat to the country.

The Russian president had also invited PM Shehbaz to Moscow and the date for this visit was being finalised, he added.

Asif said all the heads of state had assured the prime minister of every possible support during the country's flood disaster.

The minister further said PM Shehbaz would visit China in the first week of November.

Asif maintained that when the coalition government came to power, the affairs of the country were in a pathetic state.

However, he added that the future looked promising and the high inflation would soon be brought under control.

The minister stressed the need for unity and political stability to overcome the challenges faced by the country, particularly the floods.

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