President Dr Arif Alvi and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa were in Lahore on Friday night as speculations ran rife on who will be appointed the new army chief. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman is also in Lahore, recuperating from surgeries at his home in Zaman Park.

Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif will soon return from London after consulting his elder brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif on the political quagmire in the country and the appointment of a new army chief.

According to news reports, President Alvi has emerged as the leading figure in the army’s ongoing “backchannel talks” with PTI. He has already facilitated at least one direct meeting between Gen Bajwa and Khan at the Presidency.


In an interview on Geo News’ programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath”, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira — whose party also holds an important position in the ruling alliance — said merit would determine who becomes the next army chief.

“The [government] will appoint the next army chief from among the top-five senior generals,” Kaira said and mentioned that PM Shehbaz would return to Pakistan and deliberate over the matter with members of the government and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Lashing out at Khan, Kaira said the person against whom Khan had reservations was the same man with whom he spent four years in power.

Earlier this week, PM Shehbaz and Nawaz Sharif agreed not to succumb to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) pressure, especially on Khan’s key demand for early elections.

The Premier had a meeting that lasted for over three hours with his elder brother. Reportedly, Nawaz told Shehbaz to “continue doing his best to take Pakistan out of the economic crisis” and “not succumb to any kind of pressure”.

Meanwhile, Khan has also reiterated his stance on appointing the army chief on “merit” and criticised PM Shehbaz for consulting Nawaz on this all-important appointment.

During an address to participants of his party’s long march in Gujrat via video link, Khan said: “Whoever fits the merit, should be appointed the army chief.”

“Nawaz Sharif always brings up the man who is beneficial for him,” Khan said referring to the appointment’s decision. The statement was in stark contrast to Khan’s stance of just a day earlier, as reported by Dawn, when he told journalists that, “They [government] can appoint whoever they want.”