Pakistan govt initiates talks with Imran Khan’s PTI to resolve deadlock over appointment of new army chief

File photo of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf leader and former prime minister Imran Khan. Reuters

Islamabad: For the first time since coming to power, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance-led federal government has initiated a dialogue with ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to resolve political issues, including the appointment of a new Army chief, according to a media report on Sunday.

The development came as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar met with President Arif Alvi on Friday and offered dialogue to resolve political issues, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted a source as saying.

The source said the president, a member of Khan’s party, told Dar that his message would be conveyed to the PTI leadership.

In response to the government offer, the PTI leadership also showed willingness and authorised the president to engage with the government, the source added.

Dar held two meetings with the president in the last three days, the paper reported.

“The PTI wants the announcement of the date for the early general elections. If the government agrees, then the PTI is willing to rejoin parliament for a dialogue on the electoral framework,” the paper reported.

It is also reported that the purpose of the meeting between the finance minister and the president was to ensure that the process regarding the appointment of a new Pakistan Army chief would culminate smoothly.

Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire on 29 November.

Under the law, the president can hold back the summary on the appointment of the Army chief sent to him by the prime minister for 25 days.

The sources, however, said the appointment of an army chief was a very sensitive matter, and it would not be in the national interest to delay the process.

A PTI leader told The Express Tribune that if the government appoints an army chief in violation of the settled process then the president may hold the summary for reconsideration.

He, however, said that the party would not dispute the appointment of any general as the army chief. “Now, the appointment of the new chief is not an issue of PTI,” he added.

However, he remarked that the civil and military leadership were not on the same page regarding the appointment of the new chief.

The Express Tribune also reported that a summary regarding the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) is yet to be initiated by the defence ministry.

One source claimed that the summary could be initiated anytime in the next 36 hours, but if it was delayed further, then the government may approve the appointment of the new army chief through the federal cabinet.

However, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader rejected the report regarding differences between the civil and military leadership on the matter, saying that the decision had already been taken and the announcement would be made soon.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif consulted former president Asif Ali Zardari and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned that in case any mess is created in the process, then the president will be held responsible.

Legal experts said the matter may come up in the Supreme Court on the grounds of not following the already settled process regarding the appointment of the chief.

Political analysts suggested the new COAS will have many challenges such as the worsening economic situation due to political instability and PTI chief Khan’s anti-establishment narrative.

The PTI is expecting the new army chief to ensure early general elections while the PDM government wants their government to function smoothly until next September, according to the paper.

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Source: First Post

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