Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday expressed optimism that President Dr Arif Alvi would not leave behind a “legacy of clashes” on the matter of the next army chief’s appointment.
In an interview on Dawn News show “Live with Adil Shahzeb”, the defence minister was asked whether the president would delay the summary for important army appointments for some days to which he said: “I don’t think the president will want to leave a legacy of clashes. It is my opinion that he will not want to leave controversy behind as his office’s legacy.”
Asif said Prime Minister Shahbaz Sarif was directly in contact with Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for the appointment of the next chief of army staff (COAS) and chairman joint chief of staff (CJCS).
“There is no disagreement between army and government about the appointment of the new army chief as the whole process, including the matter of forwarding the summary to the prime minister, is as per the [mutual] agreement including the dates,” he said.
Asif said Gen Bajwa has served for over six years and his recommendation held weight.
The defence minister also revealed that the government had “informal contacts” with the PTI, including those in the party who portrayed themselves as hawks but were not and some doves who wanted the situation to improve.
“Some of those party members are in contact with senior leadership of our party but that is informal,” he said, adding that if some “sincerity was demonstrated” then the talks could move further.
When asked about the outgoing army chief, Asif said he was informal and close to his troops. He said keeping the army out of politics would be Gen Bajwa’s “biggest legacy”.
Replying to Gen Bajwa’s leaked tax details, Asif said the government had reached the culprits. “I think whoever submits tax returns can be taxed or asked but someone who has served for over 30 to 35 years in the army … has justification for his assets,” he concluded.