Imran Khan vows not to let Sharif, Zardari pick next army chief – Times of India

ISLAMABAD: The appointment of Pakistan’s next army chief after Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa retires in November turned into another potential minefield in the country’s politics after former PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan declared he wouldn’t allow his predecessor Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari to pick someone of their choice, come what may.
Addressing a rally in Peshawar in the northwest late Tuesday, Imran defended his previous stance on the issue. Last Sunday, he had accused the Sharif-Zardari duo of trying to bring in an army chief of their liking in a bid to protect their immense “looted wealth”.
The remark plunged him into a controversy, drawing -condemnations from various quarters. The army’s media wing issued a -statement saying it was aghast at the defamatory and uncalled-for statement about the institution’s senior leadership.
Avoidind any response to the army’s retort, Imran blamed his political rivals for twisting his statements to pit his party against the military and the judiciary. “They are planning to disqualify me first and then turn Pakistan’s institutions, including the judiciary,against me through propaganda,” he alleged.
“Sharif is a convict and absconder. We will not allow an absconder to select the new army chief. The new chief should be appointed on merit,” the former PM said, adding that institutions are strengthened only when appointments there are made on merit.
Responding to the allegations of the coalition government, Imran said those who were labelling him as anti-army had themselves targeted Pakistan’s institutions, including the
military, in the past.
Referring to the so-called “Dawn Leaks” on national security, the PTI chairman said the Sharif and his brother, PM Shehbaz Sharif, had sent a message to India that Pakistan’s army was supporting terrorism while they had no role in it. Likewise, the ousted PM said, Zardari through Hussian Haqqani, the then Pakistani ambassador in Washington, had asked the US to save his government from the army.
“Should we allow such crooks (Sharif, Zardari) to make such important appointments? No we will never,” he said.
Imran played videos of the ruling Pakistan Democratic (PDM) leaders, particularly Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to show they had criticised the army in the past.
In an attempt to pacify the powerful military establishment, the former PM said, “My criticism of the Pakistan Army is constructive. The army is mine. This country is mine. Stability of the state is only guaranteed when institutions are strong.”
He also played one of his own old videos during a public gathering in which he was speaking in favour of the army.
“When the army is strong, the entire country is strong and we enjoy independence,” he said, a statement described by his opponents as his latest U-turn.