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ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition partners on Wednesday threw their weight behind Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his prerogative to make the decision with regard to the appointments of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) as mandated by the Constitution.

According to a statement issued by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, a meeting of the coalition partners chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was held at the PM House on a one-point agenda with regard to constitutional appointments.

The meeting was attended by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Khalid Magsi, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Professor Sajid Mir of Jamiat Ahl-Hadith, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Mohsin Dawar of National Democratic Movement (NDM), Shahzain Bugti of Jamhoori Watan Party, besides senior cabinet members.

As per the video footage of the meeting, released by the information minister to the media, neither JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman nor any other leader of his party was among the participants. However, Maulana Fazl along with a delegation, later separately called on Prime Minister Shehbaz.

Sources said the meeting of the coalition partners also devised a strategy to deal with the situation, in case, President Dr Arif Alvi put on hold the summary of the appointments to be sent to him for approval by the prime minister. About the meeting, Marriyum further stated that the meeting of the leaders of the ruling coalition parties expressed full confidence in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“All the coalition parties entrusted the authority of decision regarding constitutional appointments to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” she said, adding that the leaders of the ruling coalition assured the prime minister that they will stand behind whatever decision he takes.

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“You are the prime minister and the Constitution has entrusted you with this authority and privilege,” the minister quoted former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to have told the prime minister.

She further stated that the coalition parties thanked the prime minister for consulting them on the important appointments, adding that the premier also thanked the coalition parties and their leadership for showing full confidence in him.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said, “We have decided that we will stand behind the prime minister whatever decision he takes.” Zardari also vowed his party’s support to the prime minister, he added.

He said that Prime Minister Shehbaz set a “new precedence” by holding a consultation with regard to the appointments in the top army ranks, adding that the prime minister has the constitutional authority to take his own decision, but he took a “good” decision to make any decision after consultations.

“All the coalition partners empowered the prime minister to make whatever decision [he thinks best]. The coalition partners assured the prime minister that his decision will be acceptable to them,” Kaira further maintained.

Responding to a question if President Dr Arif Alvi put the summary on hold after the prime minister forwards it for approval, Kaira said: “If such a situation arises “acting charge” [of the COAS] may be given to the senior-most general.”

The prime minister has also reportedly called another round of consultations with the coalition partners today (Thursday) on some “suggested” amendments in the rules with regard to the important appointments ahead of the special meeting of the federal cabinet which will give approval to the decisions.

Earlier, on Wednesday night, the PM Office received a summary, carrying the names of the six top lieutenant generals for the appointments of the COAS and the CJCSC.

“The PM Office has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a panel of names for the appointment of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff. The Prime Minister will take a decision on the appointments as per the laid down procedure,” the PM Office said in a brief statement on Wednesday morning.

They are Lt Gen Asim Munir, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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