LAHORE: The Sharif brothers are said to have determined in a London meeting that the prime minister will not yield to any ‘pressure’ to make the vital appointment — no matter what. This decision comes as negotiations among various stakeholder groups around the choice of the new army commander pick up steam both inside and outside the nation.
In the meantime, news that the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had received a diplomatic passport on Thursday opened the door for his upcoming visit to the nation.
PM Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother Nawaz have determined that the powers of the premier to pick the army chief would not be ceded at any cost in response to growing pressure from Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to appoint a new army commander that would be acceptable to him and declare early elections, a trustworthy source familiar with the conversations between the two brothers in London informed Dawn on Thursday.
According to insiders, the prime minister allegedly traveled to London to provide his elder brother with the choices that he had been given by certain people in light of the rapidly shifting political landscape.
However, the source claimed that both brothers had decided against caving into Mr. Khan’s desire for immediate polls.
“PM Shehbaz informed Nawaz that practically all Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties concur on the premier’s authority to name the army commander and extend the current administration’s term till August 2023. They (the PML-N and affiliated parties) are even willing to sacrifice their government, but they won’t change their minds, the source insisted.
The sessions also included Maryam, Hassan, and Hussain, Nawaz’s kids.
Both of the Sharif brothers spoke about the choice of the army chief, the defense minister Khawaja Asif confirmed to a private TV network.
The choice of the army commander and new elections, according to a PML-N insider, were subjects of “certain pressures” on the coalition government. “That is why Mr. Shehbaz contacted the party chief to determine whether to accept some requests or not,” he added.
The prime minister had hurried to London on Wednesday while returning from Egypt to get the “last word” from his older brother, the party’s supreme head, who has been living in exile for three years. According to sources, the discussion also included an extension for Gen. Bajwa. On November 29, Gen. Bajwa’s term will come to an end.
Since becoming premier in April of this year, this was Mr. Sharif’s third trip to the UK.
Imran Khan, the ousted prime minister, has criticized the PM on numerous occasions for discussing the important appointment with a “proclaimed offender” (Nawaz Sharif), claiming that doing so violated the Official Secrets Act and was a violation of his oath.
But a few days ago, Mr. Khan appeared to have altered his mind when he told media in Lahore that he had no problem with the Shehbaz administration appointing the next army chief. The PTI leader had said, “No… they may pick anybody they want,” when asked if he had urged that the appointment be made in collaboration with him and/or his party.
Previously, Mr. Khan had said that “the Sharifs and the Zardaris” were ineligible to nominate to the highest military job on the grounds that “thieves cannot be permitted” to do so in a number of public meetings and statements over the previous several months.
He claimed that in Pakistan order to avoid responsibility, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif intended to name the next army commander of their choosing.
Additionally, he had offered Gen. Bajwa a prolongation till the subsequent elections. Khan has stated that the premier chosen following new elections should choose the next army chief. He had stated that the appointment should be made by a government that was elected in a free and fair election and that a “provision may be found” in the legislation to make this arrangement function.