‘Plan B’ ready if president creates hurdles in COAS appointment: Dar

Entire process of army chief's appointment will be completed by November 28, says finance minister


News Desk November 24, 2022
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar addressing a news conference in Islamabad on November 9, 2022. SCREENGRAB

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that the government has 'Plan B' if President Dr Arif Alvi created hurdles in the appointment of the new army chief.

The statement comes hours after former prime minister Imran Khan, during an interview with a private TV channel, said that Dr Alvi is in touch with him and will consult on the summary of the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

"President Arif Alvi is in touch with me [regarding the COAS appointment]. Whenever he gets the summary, he will consult me," Imran said during an interview with a private TV channel on Wednesday.

Read more: President will consult me on COAS appointment summary: Imran

The deposed premier said that if the incumbent prime minister can consult "fugitive" — a reference to former PM Nawaz Sharif — then why can't Dr Arif Alvi discuss the all-important appointment with him as he's the party chief?

In an interview with Express News' anchorperson Javed Chaudhry during the programme "Kal Tak", Dar said that the appointment of Chairman Joint Chief of Staff (CJCSC) will be done before November 27, hoping that the entire process will be completed by November 28. He said that both appointments can be done on two separate days.

"If the president tried to create hurdles in the appointment, we have plan b," the finance minister said while responding to a question.

Answering the question about the retirement of Lt. General Asim Munir on November 27, Ishaq Dar said that the government has a "solution" for this as well.

Discussing the economic situation of the country, Dar said that there is no risk of default and all payments will be made on time.

He said that the government was ready for dialogues with the PTI. However, he added, the negotiations should be unconditional.

The crucial appointment continues to dominate national discourse for the last few days despite appeals by the government ministers not to create unnecessary hype.

A day earlier, the General Headquarters (GHQ) confirmed that it forwarded the summary containing the names of six senior-most lieutenant generals to the Ministry of Defence that would pave the way for a smooth transition in the army's top command.

Read: COAS appointment: Will SC interfere to nip the potential crisis in bud?

The PMO also confirmed earlier this morning that it had received the summary for the COAS' appointment. The new army chief will take charge on November 29 as the incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa would doff his uniform the same day after completing six years in office.

The ISPR statement didn’t mention the names of potential candidates. However, it is believed that the list includes Lt General Asim Munir, Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt General Azhar Abbas, Lt General Numan Mahmud, Lt General Faiz Hameed and Lt General Muhammad Amir.

Meanwhile, the coalition partners, earlier in the day, entrusted PM Shehbaz with full authority to make the all-important decision.

The leaders of the coalition parties including former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain among others attended a high-level meeting, chaired by the prime minister.

"Shehbaz Sharif sahib, you are the prime minister and the Constitution has assigned this authority and right to you," insiders quoted Zardari as saying during the meeting.

"God has placed you on this position... it is your constitutional right," said Chaudhry Shujaat.

BAP’s Khalid Magsi said that whatever the premier decides, he will firmly stand with him over the crucial appointment.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and MQM-P's Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui also expressed their support for PM Shehbaz. "We have full confidence in you. This is your constitutional right. We're thankful to you for making us part of the consultation process," said Siddiqui.

Sources revealed that the prime minister took all the allies into confidence on which they expressed full confidence in the premier's decision, announcing that they will stand by PM Shehbaz in whatever decision he takes.

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