Ruling allies empower PM to finalise new COAS

ISLAMABAD           -           Heads of coalition parties in the ruling Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) have fully authorized Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to pick the senior most officers for the appointment of chairman joint chiefs of the staff committee and chief of the army staff. The assurance by the coalition leaders was given at a dinner hosted by the prime minister in their honour at the PM House here Wednesday night. The consultative dinner was attended by the leaders of all coalition parties in the ruling alliance. During the meeting, former President and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari entrusted his support in the prime minister and said: “You are the prime minister and the Constitution has granted you this authority and privilege.” PML-Q supremo Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain told PM Shehbaz that decision on the appointment was his constitutional right. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman extended his support to the premier. “We stand with you no matter what decision the prime minister takes,” he said at the meeting. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N said that it was a matter of pride for the party that the premier had full support from the coalition partners. MQM’s Khalid Mqabool Siddiqui extended his support to the premier and appreciated his gesture of consulting coalition partners. Dr Khalid Magsi of the Balochistan Awami Party said that whatever decision the prime minister takes, he “firmly” stands with him. Aslam Bhootani, an independent coalition partner from Balochistan, told PM Shehbaz that he endorses his decision. Mohsin Dawar of the National Democratic Front said that the prime minister is authorised to make important appointments. Qaumi Watan Party’s Aftab Khan Sherpao and Minister for Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti both entrusted their confidence in the prime minister. Talking to media after the meeting, PPP leader and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Qamar Zaman Qaira said there was only one-point agenda of this meeting and that was the appointment of CJCSC and COAS. He said that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari had also authorized the prime minister to take a final decision on these two high profile appointments in the Pakistan Army. When his comments were sought on the speech of the army chief at the GHQ, Qaira said that the points high lighted by the army chief needs to be implemented. He also said whatever decision Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would take the coalition parties would stand by the PM. Earlier in the day, the prime minister chaired a meeting to consider and finalize the names for CJCSC and COAS positions. During the meeting, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif briefed the meeting about various names and background of the general officers.

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