ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government would be likely to go by the book when it comes to appoint the next army chief, as there have been minimal chances of extension to incumbent Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
In the light of interviews with some retired servicemen, legal and constitutional experts and sources in the ruling party, the option of extension to the tenure of the sitting army chief would be the least popular option to go for.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meetings at the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly session could leave some affect in the process of picking the new army chief and the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee.
According to sources in PML-N, the prime minister, who is also holding the portfolio for defence, had before his departure for the US turned down the proposal of promoting Lieutenant-General Mohammad Haroon Aslam, chief of logistics staff, as chairman joint chiefs of staff committee.
Sources further said Kayani had, during his meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, expressed his tacit annoyance over the rejection of the proposal of Haroon Aslam's promotion to be chairman joint chiefs of staff committee. Sources in PML-N said Premier Sharif would likely dole out the slot of chairman joint chiefs of staff committee to the navy. There is a strong possibility of Naval Chief Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila stepping into the said office.
Sources further said the position remained with the army since 1997, when the then chairman joints chief of staff committee Farooq Feroze Khan retired. Now PML-N led government wants to rotate the slot between the three armed forces.
Sources in the government said that keeping in view the bitter experience of the past, the PML-N government, led by Nawaz Sharif, would likely go by the book in all the future constitutional appointments and seniority would be the main benchmark for it.
On the other hand, legal and constitutional experts, commenting on the given situation, said there was no mention of extension in service of chief of army staff in constitution while in the light of Army Act, 1956, and Army Rules and Regulations (ARR) there was no such provision either.
The experts said that under the Army Act, 1956, the upper age limit for retirement of an army general was 60 years and in the book of seniority named ‘Colonel and Above’ the appointment and retirement age of all the officers above the rank of colonel was mentioned and it was revised on a regular basis on each promotion board of the officers.