Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan is dragging the appointment of the new leader of the Pakistan Army into a controversy under what he termed “a thought-out plan”.
“It’s the constitutional and legal authority of the government to appoint the army chief and it [the government] will ultimately fulfil this duty,” the minister said speaking on the Geo News programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath” on Monday.
In an exclusive interview with a private news channel on Monday, Imran Khan suggested deferring the appointment of the new army chief until the country has a newly formed government. Per Imran Khan, the upcoming government should appoint the leader of the Pakistan Army.
Khawaja Asif said Imran Khan wished to appoint the army chief of his choosing. There are still two and a half months left before the appointment of the Army Chief, he noted. The process of considering it has not even started yet, the defence minister said.
“Imran Khan is making this issue controversial under a well-calculated plan,” he said.
Khawaja Asif claimed that Imran Khan had held meetings at his residence in Banigala. The PML-N leader said the PTI people still want US support. He also highlighted what Imran Khan had said about the courts. “Now, Imran Khan is also crossing our religious red lines,” he added.
He said that the Punjab government could collapse at any time as it is based on a few votes. There are resentments in his [Imran’s] party, Asif said. He added that the current situation is that even Asad Umar and Shah Mehmood Qureshi are not willing to defend Imran Khan’s statements.
What Imran Khan said
On September 12, Imran Khan proposed to extend the tenure of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa till the next elections.
Khan said that the appointment of an army chief should be deferred until the government is elected, which should then choose the new military head.
Khan has been making headlines since his ouster in April this year because of his constant remarks regarding the army chief.
Earlier this month, while speaking during a public rally in Faisalabad, the PTI chairman had called out the government, saying that it was delaying the elections to appoint an army chief of its own and that if a “patriotic chief of army staff comes in, he will not spare the incumbent rulers.”