ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif Wednesday said that it is possible that elections are held before the appointment of the new army chief, due in November.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, Khawaja Asif said: “It is possible that the caretaker setup will leave before November and a new government is formed in the county.”
“Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has already announced that he is not willing extension in his service.”
Welcoming his decision, the defence minister said that the army chief’s statement has closed the doors on speculations and rumours. He maintained that the former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif, too, had never “directly or indirectly demanded an extension”.
It is worth mentioning that Gen Bajwa will remain in office till November 2022 after his three-year extension granted in 2019 by the then prime minister Imran Khan is set to expire.
Asif further mentioned that if Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed’s name would be in the seniority list then the government will consider him for the post. “All names present in the seniority list will be considered,” he asserted.
Lashing out at the PTI-led government, the defence minister said that Imran Khan wanted to bring an army chief of his choice to protect his political interests and the continuation of his rule in the country.
Responding to a question, Khawaja Asif said that his government was not toppled down to stop his interference in the process of appointing the new army chief.
He maintained that it is the discretion of the prime minister to select one of the names sent by the army. The minister admitted that Khan is a “popular leader” but he has failed to deliver. He is playing the religion card and propagating his anti-US narrative.
Referring to the country’s deteriorating economic condition, Khawaja Asif said that taking the government in this situation was a “big political risk”.
“I don’t think someone push us, we jumped ourselves,” he added.
The minister said that the country would have suffered irreversible damage if Imran Khan remained in power for another 14 months.
“Imran-led government was heading towards failure,” he added.
People around Imran Khan were accumulating wealth, the minister alleged, adding that Imran’s financial background is also very bad but he will not go into the details.
More to follow …