Pakistan's Army Chief General Bajwa to retire in 5 weeks, won't seek tenure extension, say sources
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday said that he will retire in 5 weeks and is not seeking a tenure extension, Pakistan's Geo News reported quoting sources as saying.
The incumbent COAS General Bajwa also said that Pakistan's army will not play any role in politics.
Previously also, Bajwa said that he will retire as COAS when his tenure which got a 3-year extension will end on November 29, 2022.
Speaking on the matter earlier this month, Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the general elections in the country will be held as per schedule in 2023 and that the appointment of the new COAS will be held in accordance with the law.
In Pakistan, it is said, more seriously than in jest, that political power flows through the barrel of the army's gun. For the first time, the post and the persona of the army chief and his likely successor are fair game. They have actually become a major part of the political conundrum.
President Arif Alvi is the newest entrant in the raging debate over who should be the next army chief, when and how, confusing and compounding an already murky situation. It only reinforces the role of the all-powerful military in the South Asian nation's political affairs.
Alvi has sought a role for his office, actually himself, in the decision-making process involving the selection of the next army chief to succeed incumbent, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who, as per schedule, is to retire on November 29 this year.
In an interview with journalist Asma Shirazi on Aaj TV, the President desired that "a summary of the appointment be sent to him after the consultation has been completed", Dawn newspaper reported.
Pakistan's Constitution, however, does not provide for a role for the President who is actually a titular head of a government that follows the parliamentary system and has a government headed by a Prime Minister. It is the incumbent's sole prerogative to tick the name of the officer of his choice from the list sent by the Defence Ministry, or even a general not on that panel.
Alvi on October 10, asked that "broader consultation" on the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) was "a must so that a consensus could be developed".
With the call for "broader consultations", political analysts said, Alvi was seeking a role for the principal opposition leader, Imran Khan, the former prime minister voted out in April and who has since been agitating for a snap poll.
Alvi was elected President during Khan's tenure and belongs to Khan's PTI. In his interview, though, he said he had left behind his political affiliation. However, he had delayed and had been reluctant to swear in the incoming government in April this year.
Alvi has been known to hold meetings of various stakeholders and as per media reports, has brought about one between Khan and Gen. Bajwa. He claims these are his "efforts in a personal capacity". After that meeting, media reports say, Khan has lowered his attacks on the military, especially personal attacks on Bajwa.
Khan has been demanding a snap poll and is assuming that he would win it. He wants to be the one to select Bajwa's successor. Anyone other than him - he calls the present government of "thieves" -- would select one of the "corrupt" generals to suit political objectives.
Although said to be divided in its support of Khan, against the Shehbaz Sharif government, the military brass has been upset with Khan for casting aspersions on serving top officers.
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