Coalition parties’ say firmly stand with PM over crucial appointment

  • Zardari says it is PM’s constitutional prerogative to take decisions
  • ‘God has placed you on this position… it is your constitutional right: Ch Shujaat

ISLAMABAD: Top brass of all parties in the federal coalition government on Wednesday expressed their full confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and entrusted him with the appointment of new Chief of Army Staff as per his constitutional responsibility.

During a meeting held here at the PM House on one-point agenda of constitutional appointments, the leadership of all the coalition parties mandated the prime minister to take decision on these appointments, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

They said that they would fully support the prime minister’s 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.

On the occasion, Co-chairman PPP and former president Asif Ali Zardari, in his address, said that being a prime minister, it was his constitutional prerogative to take decisions.

“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.

The prime minister thanked the coalition parties’ leaders for holding a consultation. He also expressed his gratitude to the coalition parties’ leadership for reposing confidence in him.

‘President will leave behind ‘legacy of clashes’

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday expressed optimism that President Dr Arif Alvi would not leave behind a “legacy of clashes” on the matter of new army chief’s appointment.

In an interview on Dawn News show “Live with Adil Shahzeb”, the defence minister was asked whether the president would delay the summary for important army appointments for some days to which he said: “I don’t think the president will want to leave a legacy of clashes. It is my opinion that he will not want to leave controversy behind as his office’s legacy.”

“There is no disagreement between army and government about the appointment of the new army chief as the whole process, including the matter of forwarding the summary to the prime minister, is as per the [mutual] agreement including the dates,” he said.

Asif said Gen Bajwa has served for over six years and his recommendation held weight.

The defence minister also revealed that the government had “informal contacts” with the PTI, including those in the party who portrayed themselves as hawks but were not and some doves who wanted the situation to improve.

When asked about the outgoing army chief, Asif said he was informal and close to his troops. He said keeping the army out of politics would be Gen Bajwa’s “biggest legacy”.

Replying to Gen Bajwa’s leaked tax details, Asif said the government had reached the culprits. “I think whoever submits tax returns can be taxed or asked but someone who has served for over 30 to 35 years in the army … has justification for his assets,” he concluded.

Earlier, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the federal cabinet and the coalition partners will be taken on board regarding the appointment of new Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Talking to media persons here in Islamabad on Wednesday, he said the uncertainty in media regarding the appointment of next Army Chief will likely be ended in next one or two days.

Responding to a question, the Defence Minister said important decisions like the appointment of Army Chief should be taken in the best interest of the country and the nation in light of the Constitution and law without having any political considerations.

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