Khawaja Asif, Minister for Defence, said Monday that the notification for the appointment of the next chief of army staff (COAS) would be issued by November 26 before the end of the tenure of the outgoing chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa – who retires on November 29.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) on November 21, Asif said his ministry had received a letter from the Prime Minister, asking for initiation of the appointment process on Monday, which had been forwarded to General Headquarters.

He said the summary, along with the service dossiers of the senior-most lieutenant generals proposed for elevation and appointment as chief of army staff and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, was likely to be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office within two days.

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Appearing on Geo News programme “Capital Talk” on November 21, the minister said, “The appointment process for the highest offices in the Pakistan Army has commenced today.”

“Once the matter [the appointment issue] is settled, the political leaders should join hands, sit together, and talk so that the appointment is not politicised in the future,” he emphasised.

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When senior journalist Hamid Mir asked Khawaja Asif as to why Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), chose November 26 as the date for his long march, the minister stated that Khan might be considering that President Dr Arif Alvi would not approve PM Shehbaz’s recommendation for the COAS.

Lashing out at Imran Khan for “causing damage” to the honour and prestige of state institutions after being ousted from office, Asif said, “Today, an institution [army] is categorically stating that it has decided to give up its political or unconstitutional role and has made the announcement that it will play its constitutional role of defending the motherland, but Imran Khan has made their neutrality a curse.”