Islamabad: President Arif Alvi Thursday dashed to Lahore to meet Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan over the appointments of the top military brass, hours after the Prime Minister’s Office sent a summary of two top generals to the President House.
Alvi left Lahore’s Zaman Park after holding talks with Khan over the crucial appointments of Lt Gen Asim Munir as the new Chief of Army Staff and Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as the next Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier in the day sent a summary to the president for appointing Lt Gen Munir as the next army chief and Lt Gen Mirza as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC).
Khan’s aide and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the President House will issue a statement at 7pm.
“Meeting between Imran Khan and President Alvi lasted 45 minutes. President Alvi has left for Islamabad,” Chaudhry said, adding that the two leaders discussed the constitutional, political and legal issues on the army chief’s appointment.
The President House will issue a handout later in the day which will share details of President Alvi’s meeting with Khan, he said, without dropping a hint if the President would endorse the names sent by the premier or not.
President Alvi, who has received the summary for the appointments, has not yet signed it. It was reported that the president will take a decision after talks with the PTI chief.
Khan had earlier claimed that President Alvi will “definitely” consult him as soon as the summary for the appointment of next army chief reaches his office.
“President Alvi will definitely consult me on the summary for the appointment of army chief and take a decision as per the law and Constitution. I am head of the party that Dr Alvi belongs to,” Khan had said.
PTI leader Shibli Faraz defended the decision by Alvi to consult Khan, saying though the President is representative of the country, but there was no harm if he consulted his party chief as he was supported by the PTI as president.
“No hurdle would be created in the appointment and everything will be according to law and rules,” he said.
There are fears that Khan might try to throw a spanner in the appointment of the army chief. However, experts believe that the President can only delay the appointment but cannot reject it.
“The president can only delay it for a maximum period of 25 days, as he should send back the summary of the prime minister within 15 days and if the government resends the same summary, he is bound to sign it within 10 days,” said eminent lawyer Aitizaz Ahsan.
He said that the summary would be deemed approved after that period even if not endorsed by the President. Ahsan also said that PTI and its leadership would not gain anything by delaying the appointment.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar hoped that the president would endorse the summary but warned that the “government has a Plan B” if the President delayed the summary or rejected it.