New Delhi: Defence Minister of Pakistan, Khawaja Asif, declared on Monday that the process of making appointments to the top slots of the Pakistan Army had begun and the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi had already been informed.
Speaking in a session of the National Assembly, Asif said his ministry had received the prime minister's letter about initiating the process for the next army chief's appointment. He did not give any further details of the letter.
The dawn newspaper reported quoting the minister, that the letter was also communicated to the GHQ. said there was a state of "unrest" now that the process for the appointment was initiated.
Dawn newspaper quoting the minister said that the threshold of the appointment would be crossed in the next two or three days. "It is possible that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow or two days later or three days later, this whole process will complete, and this unrest will subside."
Criticising the media, the defence minister said they were contributing to confusion and charged atmosphere by airing news about whether the summary of the army chief candidates was sent or not but not bothering to verify the information.
Asif, further criticising the media, said, "the process was being treated as if it was the only issue in the country today and nothing else."
Earlier in an informal talk with reporters in Islamabad, Asif ruled out reports of a deadlock over the name of the new army said. "There is no deadlock. Once the summary is received, then a discussion will be held," the senior PML-N leader said.
The defence minister said the prime minister would take the army leadership into confidence, following which a decision would be taken. "Currently, there are five to six senior-most candidates.
But a decision has yet to be taken on the names. Asif said that consultations over current affairs were taking place daily. "I had also informed the media earlier that the process would start on Monday.
He went on to say that the government was not facing "any pressure" and was also not in any haste.
There have been speculations that the government and the army may have locked horns over the new appointment.
The chief Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure is ending on November 29, but the new Chief's appointment is likely to occur before November 27, when one of the candidates is going to retire.
Also Read: Who will be the next Pakistan army Chief?
The role of Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi has come to the limelight in the appointment process as some media reports claimed that he could hold the notification for 25 days.
However, PM's spokesman Fahd Hussain while talking to Dawn, ruled out the possibility of any such action by the President. He said under the Constitution, the powers to appoint the new army chief rested with the prime minister, and he would use his powers to select the best-suited person for the appointment.
Separately, Special Assistant to PM on Law and Justice Irfan Qadir told Dawn President Alvi could not hold the summary as, under Article 243 of the Constitution, the appointment of the Chief of the army staff was solely a function of the federal government and not the President.
Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, earlier had alleged that Pakistan's Muslim League –(Nawaz) or PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wanted to influence the appointment of the next army chief. "The army chief is a professional soldier Nawaz tries turning that person into the Punjab police chief. I know Nawaz will tell the army chief to get somehow rid of Imran Khan," he said, adding that the PML-N leader was not "used to playing with a neutral umpire."
It is for the first time seen in Pakistan that several voices are speaking against the hegemony role of the Pakistan army and intelligence agencies suppressing the political democracy of the country.
A complete disagreement exists between the ruling Pakistani government, the cadres of the Pakistani military, and political parties, more so of former prime minister Imran Khan.
For India, the appointment of the new Pakistani army chief will be equally important as the next military strategy of Pakistan, which usually controls the political decision of the country matters.
India has suffered at the hands of the Pakistan army and its wings, supporting violence and terrorism in Jammu, Kashmir, and other parts of India. India always remains politically sensitive to these prospects at the policy level in Pakistan as much needs to be dealt with by Pakistan's new army chief, especially issues along the Line of Control and the International Border.
India, Washington DC, Russia, Riyadh, Beijing and many other countries are observing the unfolding in Pakistan.
According to Sputnik International, here is the list of the top six generals after General Bajwa who may be considered for the highest position.
Lieutenant General Asim Munir
Lt-Gen Munir was a close ally of General Bajwa since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under the incumbent COAS, who was, at the time, Commander X Corps.
Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza
Lt-Gen Mirza had an impressive career in the army, particularly in senior leadership positions as he served as director-general of military operations (DGMO) and ran crucial military operations against Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants in North Waziristan.
Lieutenant General Azhar Abbas
Currently, Lt-Gen Azhar Abbas is the Chief of General Staff (CGS), which means that he is directly running the army in both operational and intelligence directorates at GHQ. He is known to be the most experienced in Indian affairs and has commanded the 12th Infantry Division based in Murree, from where he was in charge of Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
Lieutenant General Nauman Mehmood
Lt-Gen Mehmood is president of the National Defence University and belongs to the Baloch regiment. After he was promoted to a three-star general, Lt-Gen Mehmood was appointed Inspector-General of Communications & Information Technology at the GHQ in 2019.
Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid
Gen Bajwa and Lt-Gen Hamid have reportedly known each other for a long time, and Gen Bajwa posted Hamid as Director-General (Counter-Intelligence) at ISI, where he was in charge of internal security and political affairs. Later on, he was promoted and appointed as Director General of the ISI.
Lieutenant General Mohammad Amir
Lt-Gen Amir is at present commanding the XXX Corps in Gujranwala. Previously he had also served as Director-General Staff Duties at the COAS Secretariat, which enabled him to gain insight into the GHQ and senior command positions.