The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Wednesday morning that it has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a “panel of names” for the appointment of the new chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chief of staff committee (CJCSC).
“The prime minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” the early morning statement said.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had tweeted the same late on Tuesday night, saying that the summary had been forwarded to the PMO from the defence ministry. “The rest of the steps will be completed soon,” he said.
The development comes hours after the military confirmed that it had dispatched the summary to the defence ministry.
Although multiple ministers spent Tuesday denying the impression that the summary had been received by the PMO, the brief missive from Inter-Services Public Relations simply stated: “GHQ has forwarded the summary for selection of CJCSC and COAS, containing names of 6 senior most Lt Gens, to MoD.”
Although the communique did not mention which six names have been forwarded, it is believed that the six men currently in the running to be the next chief of army staff are (in order of seniority) Lt Gen Asim Munir (currently Quarter Master General), Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza (Commander 10 Corps), Lt Gen Azhar Abbas (Chief of General Staff), Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood (NDU President), Lt Gen Faiz Hamid (Commander Bahawalpur Corps), and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir (Commander Gujranwala Corps).
Earlier, participating in a TV talk show, the defence minister said there were no differences between the army and government and the concerns being expressed by various quarters in that regard were unfounded.
A day earlier, several PML-N leaders, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, had indicated that the army was impeding the process.
But the defence minister said he had conveyed to Abbasi that his concerns would be allayed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is, moreover, expected to hold a consultation with outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday on the selection of his successor. It is a convention that the prime minister holds this discussion with the outgoing chief, however, it is described as “informal consultation”.
A special meeting of the federal cabinet has also been convened for Thursday to deliberate on the appointments. The government had earlier planned to complete the process by Friday.
The prime minister would after making the choice advise President Arif Alvi to appoint the general as the next army chief. It remains to be seen if the president would agree with the advice or send it back for reconsideration.