No concession for Imran Khan on misleading remarks about army chief’s appointment: Khawaja Asif

ISLAMABAD, Sep 8 (APP):Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday said the government would extend no concession to former prime minister Imran Khan for his misleading remarks on the army chief’s appointment.

The government would not yield to anyone’s pressure in that regard and would take legal action against him (Imran) after a thorough probe, the minister said in an interview with Voice of America.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman addressing a public meeting in Faisalabad on Sunday, had accused the leaders of ruling coalition, including Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, that they were not holding general election because of the next army chief’s appointment in November.

Khawaja Asif said there were still three months and the government would not take a hasty decision. It was the government’s priority to uphold the sanctity and dignity of the institution. ‘We will not allow the matter of army chief’s appointment to become controversial.”

He said there was no precedent in the country’s 75-year history that the new army chief was nominated two to three months or even a month prior to the retirement of incumbent.

Making the process of the Chief of Army Staff’s appointment controversial was no service rather was an enmity to the nation and the country, the minister added.

He said the procedure for appointing the army chief was enshrined in the Constitution. The names of four or five senior generals were submitted to the prime minister by the army, who appointed any one of them as COAS at his discretion.

To a question about consultation with the coalition parties on the army chief’s appointment, Khawaja Asif said for taking important decisions it was necessary to consult the allies of the government.

“Certainly, the coalition parties leaders will be taken on board on the names put forward by the army,” he said, adding the government would, however, not deviate from the rules.

Khawaja Asif said Pakistan had been facing extraordinary security situation for the last 20 years, and during such uncertain conditions, the chiefs of three armed forces were appointed as per schedule.

He said at present the country’s political and economic conditions were not favourable, but there were absolutely no “abnormal conditions” as far as defence institutions were concerned.

The minister said it was the first time that there was increased media interest in the army chief’s appointment, while Imran Khan was also commenting on the matter publicly.

To a question, he said Pakistan’s soil was not used in a drone attack by the United States in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s air and land routes were used before the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, but currently, Islamabad had no such agreement with Washington.

Pakistan, he said, wanted stability in the neighbouring country and for that, was providing all possible support to Afghanistan.

He said both Pakistan and Afghanistan had common interests, and they would have to protect the same through brotherhood, which was also beneficial for the entire region.