PTI Chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on the extension of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) have caused quite a storm in Pakistan.
Imran Khan, in an interview with a private news channel, proposed to extend the tenure of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa till the next elections. While Imran Khan did not take, General Bajwa’s name, he did say that the appointment of an army chief should be deferred until the government is elected, which should then choose the new military head.
“I have stated that the position of the army chief is very important. The appointment has to be done on merit. I will repeat time and again that it should be done on merit,” Imran explained while building his case for the new army chief’s appointment after the elections.
He said neither Asif Ali Zardari nor Nawaz Sharif fulfilled the criteria of merit to appoint the new army chief, adding they both lacked the moral ground to be part of such an important decision-making process. However, he added that if the two parties win ‘free and fair’ elections, then they may appoint the army chief of their own choosing.
“Hold fresh elections. If they [the coalition government] wins, they can choose their own army chief,” Imran Khan said.
Imran Khan favours Gen Bajwa to continue till Elections: Is this a surrender after facing huge challenges & pressures or this marks a political deal between PTI and Establishment? or this is a mere hype? How will PMLN/PDM react to this? https://t.co/D8ai2W3svA via @YouTube
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) September 13, 2022
Reaction to Imran Khan’s latest statement on Army
Pertinent to mention that COAS Bajwa is due to retire as Chief of Army Staff on 29 November 2022 after having been granted a three-year extension. Therefore, Imran Khan’s statement is being considered a possible agreement or a suggestion to extend COAS Bajwa’s appointment, albeit for a short period.
Moreover, Imran Khan has made quite the headlines this year – ever since he was ousted – for his remarks on the Army Chief. Recently, he alleged that the PPP and PML-N were opposing fresh elections, because they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their choice” in November to save their skin in corruption cases.
Imran Khan’s recent remark is taking social media by storm. His critics are calling it a “U-Turn”, or that perhaps he has allegedly struck some sort of deal with the Establishment.
PM Imran Khan pleads for extension in service of Army Chief Gen Bajwa after publicly making accusations of ‘Mir Jafar, Mir Sadiq and American agent’ pic.twitter.com/bj4Yzipks4
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) September 12, 2022
— Bia (@NabirahHasan) September 13, 2022
The only reason @ImranKhanPTI is fighting for is to appoint the next army chief. He is aware that if someone against him occupies the chair, his future has ended.
Willing for anything to get this power, even extending Bajwa's termhttps://t.co/nLAJkZKa5d
— Maj Gen Harsha Kakar (@kakar_harsha) September 13, 2022
He is very smart in preempting, he strikes the current Army Chief Gen Bajwa so smartly! https://t.co/8wgXMjizqD
— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) September 12, 2022
On the other hand, some experts believe that Imran Khan did not even mention COAS Bajwa in his interview and his remarks are being blown out of proportion.
Former PM @ImranKhanPTI said the govt. which comes into power after free&fair polls should appoint new army chief.
Imran Khan didn’t directly say extension be given to the COAS Gen. Bajwa as implied or interpreted by many after Kamran Khan’s teaser of his interview with IK.
— Owais Tohid (@OwaisTohid) September 12, 2022
Senior leaders of #PTI confirmed no matter what the confusion maybe in the interview of @ImranKhanPTI with @AajKamranKhan ,the prevalent view in #PTI is that extension should be given to #COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa. There is a clarity that new elected govt should appoint new Chief.
— Fereeha M Idrees (@Fereeha) September 13, 2022