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‘They can appoint whoever they want’: Imran’s remarks on Army chief’s selection

Despite consistently asking for a collaborative process before choosing the new army chief, former prime minister Imran Khan apparently sees no issue with the Shehbaz Sharif administration making the choice.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman provided a unique perspective on the selection of a new chief of army staff during a Tuesday meeting with journalists at his Zaman Park mansion.

Mr. Khan responded, “No… they may nominate anybody they want,” when asked if he had required that the selection of a new head be done in cooperation with him and/or his party.

Since “thieves cannot be permitted to pick the next army chief,” Mr. Khan had already said in a number of public meetings and speeches over the course of the previous few months that “the Sha­rifs and the Zardaris” were ineligible to fill the top military position.

However, when a reporter questioned Mr. Khan on Tuesday regarding if current army commander Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa was receiving a prolongation, the former premier said: “This is a billion-dollar question.”

In addition, Mr. Khan said that the issue of “accountability” caused a rift in his relationship with the military establishment and that the prime needed more authority for the nation to function well.

“I had no problems with the military. Problems only surfaced when it came to responsibility. But the military can also be useful. I think the prime minister needs to have power as well, along with management, if we want the country to run well,” Mr. Khan remarked.

He believed that a coalition government would have to make numerous concessions. In a coalition, the prime minister “may be blackmailed…a two-thirds majority provides the premier strength,” he insisted.

A senior PTI official also acknowledged the perception that Mr. Khan’s relations with the military leadership during the PTI government deteriorated when the latter suggested the PM shift his attention from holding opposition figures accountable to mending the economy. Imran Khan provoked difficulties by remaining firm in his beliefs, he claimed.

Neha Ayub
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