LONDON    -   Minister for Defene Khawaja Asif has said that the appoint­ment of army chief will be in accordance with the Consti­

 tution and the law and consul­tations on the subject will begin in November. “The process for the army chief’s appointment will start two to three weeks before the serving army chief’s tenure lapses as is traditionally done in the past,” explained the minister while talking to media here yesterday.

He further said, “I must say that the army chief’s loyalty is first with the country and then with his institution and he is not under any politician.”

Kh Asif’s remarks came amid intensifying speculation on the future army chief.

It is to be mentioned here that PTI chief Imran Khan has re­cently suggested that the next government should appoint the new army chief, a move which is being seen by ministers as an attempt to mend fences with the military establishment.

The defence minister added that Imran Khan wants institu­tions to intervene.

Kh Asif regretted Imran Khan’s attempt to politicize the appoint­ment of new army chief and said he (Imran) had been giving sim­ilar statements when he had just one seat in the parliament. The tradition of appoint new army chief is that the General Head­quarters (GHQ) sends a list of the four to five senior-most lieutenant-generals, along with their personnel files, to the Min­istry of Defence, which then for­wards them to the prime min­ister to pick the officer he finds best suited to the role.

Theoretically, the defence ministry can vet the names be­fore presenting them to the prime minister, but that does not usually happen and the min­istry acts merely as a post office.

To a question, the minis­ter said that he would prefer Nawaz Sharif to come home im­mediately. However, he added that it should be ensured that the PML-N supremo should be granted justice for the injustices he faced back home, he added