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Pakistan to get new army chief later this month

Pakistan to get new army chief later this month

- Gen. Bajwa set to retire on Nov. 29 after completion of his tenure

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) – Pakistan will get its new army chief at the end of this month as the incumbent Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa will complete his extended tenure on Nov. 29.

The new appointment to the powerful position is taking place when the South Asian country is facing political instability since April after the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion in parliament.

As per the country’s constitution, the new army chief shall be appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

“The president shall, on the advice of the prime minister, appoint the chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee; the chief of the army staff; the chief of the naval staff; and the chief of the air staff, and shall also determine their salaries and allowance,” according to the constitution.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that the process for the appointment of a new army chief will start from Nov. 18-19.

Asif added that the army headquarters will be shared the nominations which his ministry will send to the premier, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Currently, Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt. Gen. Azhar Abbas, Lt. Gen. Nauman Mehmood, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid, and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Amir are in the run for the top office. The premier will pick one of the six for a term of three years.

However, Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, who is the most senior, is going to retire on Nov. 27 before Gen. Bajwa, who is set to retire on Nov. 29.

According to local media, the government is mulling bringing legal changes in the country's Army Act, apparently empowering the prime minister to retain any army general to continue his service instead of retiring.

Under the proposed amendments, the word ‘retention’ will be inserted after ‘reappointment’ in the current text of the law, while the word ‘resignation’ would be inserted after the word ‘release’, according to the local Daily Dawn.

Analysts believed the proposed amendments will also pave way for the premier to retain Lt. Gen. Asim Munir before his retirement.

However, the defense minister said there are no favorites among the nominees for a new army chief and they will make the appointment on merit.

The main opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, strongly reacted to the proposed amendments in the Army Act, saying the Shehbaz Sharif government wanted to have “their man” in the powerful office.

“If this amend to the Act goes thru then officers incl COAS (Chief of Army Staff) can simply be "retained" by govt. & thus retirement of senior officers postponed,” tweeted Shireen Mazari, former human rights minister, and PTI leader.

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