Speculations continue on new COAS

Imran claims he’s taken a ‘step back’ on chief’s appointment

LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan has ‘stepped back’ from the issue of new army chief’s appointment and said “we are looking at the process from the fringes”.

Speaking to senior journalists at his Zaman Park residence and later virtually addressing the party’s long march rallies in Jehlum, Sargodha and Mardan on Wednesday, the PTI chief regretted that PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, a convict and an absconder, as well as former president Asif Ali Zardari, would be taking the most important national security decision of new army chief’s appointment.

He claimed that their personal interests clashed with national interests.

“I am not talking about those, amongst whom an army chief be appointed, but about those who will take decision about the appointment against the most sensitive position in the country.”

Sources say Mr Khan’s decision to ‘step back’ from the matter gives an impression of his discontentment over the failure of PTI’s backchannel talks with the establishment, which were being spearheaded by President Dr Arif Alvi.

The president had last week admitted that there was no breakthrough in backdoor talks he was holding with all political players as well as the powers that be to find a workable solution to end the chaos. On Wednesday, Mr Alvi conceded that he was “engaged with political and relevant stakeholders” in an attempt to bring them on the negotiating table so that they thrash out a consensus on the major issues facing the nation.

Referring to reports that the incumbent government had decided to bring changes in the Army Act, Mr Khan said: “I fear that the duo (Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari) would damage the state institutions for their personal interests. I want that the new army chief’s appointment should strengthen Pakistan Army.”

Talking to the senior journalists, he said Nawaz Sharif wanted that only such an army chief be appointed who should look after his financial matters and cases. He, however, hastened to add that “no army chief will go against the state, state institution and masses”.

The former premier said he did not have any animosity towards Washington but wanted positive, better and strong relations between the US and Pakistan. “I will always consider Pakistan’s interests supreme over my personal interests,” he said.

Mr Khan yet again appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to get Arshad Sharif, Senator Azam Swati and his own assassination attempt cases under his watch and dispense justice to all.

Imran Khan told media persons that he had received a message to hold dialogue with a government committee and said he had flatly refused it. “Dialogue only after the announcement of the date of fresh general elections.”

In his address to the long march participants, the PTI chief said his party was holding the march against installation of thieves in the government through a conspiracy, when they were about to be convicted by NAB and the FIA in a Rs1,100 billion corruption case. Eventually, those thieves were given ‘NRO’ through amendments to the NAB law.

Without naming any institution or individuals, President Alvi said in his discussion with journalists at Governor House that consultations were under way about “an important appointment in November”.

Although the statement issued after the meeting by the Press Information Department did not name the office of the “important appointment”, Dr Alvi was apparently referring to the appointment of the next army chief.

“He said an important appointment falling in the month of November should pass exactly as envisaged under the Constitution and relevant laws. However, in his opinion, the appointment might be made in consultation with the relevant stakeholders,” the PID statement added.

November 17, 2022

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1721351/imran-claims-hes-taken-a-step-back-on-chiefs-appointment

No ‘major changes’ in Army Act being considered by govt, defence minister clarifies

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Responding to the media hype over amendments to the Pakistan Army Act (PAA), Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has clarified that the government is not considering making any “major changes” to the Act.

In a tweet, Asif called the media hype over amendments to the PAA “uncalled for”.

In his statement, the defence minister Asif said that the government is not considering any major changes to the Army Act. The Supreme Court, in a 2019 judgment, had asked to review relevant clauses of the Army Act, he explained.

He added that the apex court’s decision will be complied with in due course.

The defence minister’s clarification comes after a local daily reported that major changes would be made to the law.

In a report, Daily Dawn said the government “seems” to be considering amending the army act to empower the appointing authority — the prime minister — to retain “any candidate through a simple notification, rather than having to go through a complex, constitutional process”.

The report further mentioned that after some changes, the report will be laid down before the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) after the Ministry of Defence’s nod last month. Later, it will land before the parliament for legislation.

The reports come as the army is all set to see a change of command, with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa retiring next month. The army chief is busy conducting farewell visits nowadays.

PML-N — the major stakeholder in the ruling coalition — has decided that the senior-most military official whose name will be at the top of the list sent to the prime minister would be appointed for the coveted slot.

November 17, 2022

Source: https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1010789-no-major-changes-in-army-act-being-considered-by-govt-defence-minister-clarifies

Minister ‘confirms’ plans to amend army act

by Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD: Even though Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday attempted to downplay the debate on a leaked proposal to amend the army act, the revelation has laid bare the ongoing behind-the-scenes power struggle, ahead of the impending appo­intment of a new army chief.

The wide-ranging amendments proposed in the Pakis­tan Army Act (PAA) 1952 pertain to an array of subjects rel­a­ted to the army’s functioning, structure, command, and terms and conditions of service.

However, amendments to Sec­tion 176 are currently the centre of attention, especially the insertion of the words “ret­e­ntion” and “resignation” in sub-section 2(a) of the same clause.

A casual reading of this specific amendment in the current scenario, wherein one of the contenders for the coveted post is scheduled to retire a couple of days before the chief’s position falls vacant, would suggest that a provision is probably being created to pull up the transition in a manner where the complexity involved in making an appointment is removed.

But that may not necessarily be the case.

The amendment was originally proposed by General Headquarters, as per the Defence Ministry’s Summary for the Cabinet Committee for the disposal of Legislation Cases (CCLC) and, on the face of it, seems to be meant to achieve the goal of getting Gen Bajwa to continue.

According to a retired defence secretary, the government or any of the services can technically retain any of retiring officers of the rank of lieutenant general and below for as long as they are required, without needing any new legislation.

The former secretary, who did not want to be named, said the plan to ‘retain’ seemed to be meant for none other than the incumbent army chief.

It is clear that the positions taken by the ruling allies and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have made the choice of the new commander quite tricky: if one candidate is picked, there is a chance that one of the political parties may try to discredit that appointment in public.

This is something the military can ill-afford at this juncture, when some of its senior officers are facing relentless criticism in the political domain.

This is the context in which the proposal to get Gen Bajwa to continue in office until after a new government is installed, seems to have emerged. The idea is that the new government then picks who would be the next army chief.

Until a few weeks ago, PTI chief Imran Khan was a leading proponent of this idea, but even he seems to have readjusted his views on the appointment and no longer seems keen to force his opinion on the appointment process.

Also read: Gen Bajwa to stay on as COAS for 6 more months: Supreme Court

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif contended in a tweet that the proposed amendments package was required as per the Supreme Court verdict of 2019, which had called for legislating on the tenures of the services chiefs.


Now comes the question of how serious the government is about the legislation proposed by GHQ. The summary shows that the proposal was sent by the defence ministry to the cabinet committee, which is the first port of call for any legislative proposal, on Nov 1. Since then, more than a fortnight has passed without a meeting of the CCLC.

When contacted by Dawn on Wednesday, three key federal ministers expressed complete ignorance about the proposed legislation, indicating that it had yet to be circulated among the members of the executive body.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s sudden detour to London on his way back from Sharm el-Sheikh on Nov 8 and his extended stay there also explains the government’s reluctance to do the needful. Reports from London had, at that time, indicated that PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif was averse to Gen Bajwa staying in the job.

A federal minister, on the condition of anonymity, also said that the amendments in the army act may not happen before the change of command.

The defence minister also seemed non-committal about the scope of the amendments and the timeline for legislation, saying that no major changes in the army act were being considered and whatever amendments were to be carried out, would be done in “due course”.

Gen Bajwa, who continued his farewell tour as he visited the Malir Garrison in Karachi on Wednesday, also seems to have read this. But the struggle between the government and the military on the next chief is far from over.

November 17, 2022

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1721353/minister-confirms-plans-to-amend-army-act

Government Seeking To ‘Retain’ Top Army Boss With Proposed Amendment?

The Shehbaz Sharif-led government is looking into amending the Pakistan Army Act 1952 to allow the prime minister to retain military men following notification in place of set process, according to a Dawn report by Riazul Haq.

The development comes at a time when the military is set to undergo a change of command following the retirement of incumbent COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Lieutenant General Asim Munir, often cited as a chief contender for the army post, is due to retire before Bajwa.

The proposed amendment is expected to be presented before Parliament after being green-lighted by the pertinent Cabinet Committee. The tweak had secured the assent of the defence ministry earlier in October.

“The (Federal Government) may make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this act… Without prejudice to the generality of the power conferred by sub­section (1), such rules may provide for the appointment, reappointment or extension, retirement, release, discharge, removal or dismissal from the service of persons subject to this Act, including the Chief of the Army Staff and / or the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee,” the relevant clause reads at present.

The tweak envisages the insertion of retention after reappointment in the clause. Resignation, it seeks to follow after release.

The development, according to the newspaper-of-record, carries great significance given the prevailing scenario premised on the force command slated for handover.

The prime minister, a legal expert told Dawn, will stand enabled to allow the incumbent COAS or any senior military functionary due to retire to continue till further directives were handed down in wake of the amendment’s passage.

November 17,2022

Source: https://www.thefridaytimes.com/2022/11/16/government-seeking-to-retain-top-army-boss-with-proposed-amendment/

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