PDM have confidence in PM selection on Army Chief

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ISLAMABAD: The allies of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) expressed confidence in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding the appointment of the next army chief a day after the premier received a summary containing names of six lieutenant generals for the posts of the chief of army staff (COAS) and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC).

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated that the PM presided over a meeting of the heads of political parties, which are part of the ruling coalition, to take them into confidence ahead of the appointment of the COAS, expected to be announced before his visit to Ankara on Nov 25.

According to the PMO, PPP leaders Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Balochis­tan Awami Party head Khalid Magsi, Balochistan National Party chief Akhtar Mengal, and National Demo­cratic Movement President Mohsin Dawar, among others, attended the meeting.

The statement said Mr Zardari and his son Mr Bhutto-Zardari expressed gratitude to the PM for taking all allies on board regarding the “important decision”. “Although it is solely your [PM’s] prerogative to appoint any of the candidates, we are grateful to you [PM] for keeping us all on board on the important matter,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari was quoted as saying.

The PML-Q president, during the meeting, said that it was the constitutional right of the PM to appoint anyone from the nominees as the new army chief.

“We firmly stand by you [PM] on whatever decision you will take on the matter,” said Mr Magsi. Mr Siddiqui was quoted as saying: “We have full confidence in you…this is your constitutional right. We are thankful to you for keeping us on board.”

Though JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not present at the meeting of the allied parties due to the oath-taking ceremony of the KP governor in Peshawar, he along with son Asad Mahmood, the federal minister for communications, called on the prime minister later in the day.

Earlier in the day, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari met PM Sharif, separately, at the Prime Minister’s House. Sources in the government told Dawn that the premier will also preside over a meeting of the federal cabinet today (Thursday) to discuss the appointment of the army chief.

Prior to the meeting, the premier will once again meet some of the government allies as a part of the consultative process. A meeting between the outgoing army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the prime minister is also expected regarding the appointment of the next chief.

The PMO confirmed that it had received the summary from the Defence Ministry for the appointment of the CJCSC and COAS.

“The PM’s Office has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a panel of names for the appointment of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff,” the official Twitter handle of the PM’s Office said. “The prime minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” the statement added.

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