Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that the process to appoint the next chief of army staff will formally begin after the weekend.
He added that the new army chief would be someone on whom neither the president nor the prime minister would have an objection to and would not be a surprise for either the political or military leadership in the country.
Speaking exclusively to SAMAA TV, Sanaullah said that currently, there were no names on the table and that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has yet to receive a summary from the Defence Ministry on finalizing a name.
He, however, asserted that when the summary is received, and a name is picked, the decision would be final.
“It is the prerogative of the prime minister [on picking a name for the next army chief],” he said.
Asked how many names are expected to be sent, Sanaullah gave an evasive answer that three, four, five or even six names can be included in the summary.
He added that the formal process to appoint the army chief would begin in the next two to four days.
Pointing to past practices, he said that new army chiefs have been nominated as late as just two days before the incumbent is due to retire or as early as two months before.
On the demands of Imran Khan for consultation prior to finalizing the name for the army chief, the interior minister said that the demand was intrinsically incorrect.
“This is not a political process,” he said, adding, “this is the constitutional privilege of the prime minister.”
Elections and dialogue
On the subject of when elections will be held and on replacing the chief election commissioner, Sanaullah said how it could happen when Imran Khan refuses to sit with other politicians for dialogue.
Sanaullah suggested that Imran seek time with Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman for a sit-down.
“Politicians are able to sit and evolve a solution through dialogue,” he quipped.
Previously, in an interview, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif stated that the name of the new army chief would come to light in a couple of days.
Sanaullah, though, noted that, per his experience, it was important to ensure consensus before taking important decisions. Though on this important matter, the prime minister is authorized to take a decision, and everyone has a consensus on it.