Decision on Army chief based on merit despite ‘immense pressure’: Pak PM

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday broke his silence on the names he had advised President Arif Alvi to formalise as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), noting that the decision was made based on merit, according to a media report.

In a statement, Sharif said that applying the principle of seniority in state institutions would serve to strengthen them, Samaa TV reported.

He was referring to how he picked the senior-most officer from among the six candidates shortlisted and sent to him to pick the new Army chief and CJCSC, the report said.

Sharif said that despite immense pressure, he made a decision on merit and upheld the principle of seniority.

The Prime Minister though did not clarify what the pressure was or from whom he was facing it, Samaa TV reported.

He added that his administration’s top priority is tackling economic instability.

In a veiled dig at the planned protest by former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on November 26 at the edge of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Sharif said there is no space for anarchy and chaos in the country.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Alvi approved the summary sent by Sharif for the appointment of Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir as the next Army chief, and Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the new CJCSC, ending days of speculations, Exprtess Tribune reported.

The development came following the President’s meeting with Imran Khan at Zaman Park.

Footage of the President’s caravan arriving at Khan’s Lahore residence was shared on social media by the PTI amid claims that the two would discuss the party’s plan of action ahead of the appointment for the Army’s top seat.

According to Express News, President Alvi also held a meeting with legal experts at the presidency and signed the summary following the meeting with Khan.

The Ministry of Defence would formally issue a notification about the top military appointments.

Sources said that the new Army chief and CJCSC would meet Alvi soon, Express Tribune reported.

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, taking to Twitter, had said that PM Shehbaz Sharif had sent the summary to the President.

“Using his constitutional powers, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has decided to appoint Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Lt Gen Syed Asim Munir as the Chief of the Army Staff,” she said.

As per the seniority list, Lt General Asim Munir, Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt General Azhar Abbas, Lt General Numan Mahmud, and Lt General Faiz Hameed were in contention for the job of CJCSC and Army chief.IANS

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