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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 412, 21 November 2022

COAS appointment



What is the procedure and how does it go through the government and its institutions?

Joel Jacob

On 21 November, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif announced that the process of making appointments for the position of chief of army staff has begun. He stated that the process would be completed soon in line with all constitutional requirements. Additionally, on the issue of deadlock over the name of the new army chief, he said, “There is no deadlock. Once the summary is received, then a discussion will be held.” 

The term of the incumbent COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa is ending on 29 November, but the appointment of the new chief is to take place before 27 November. According to Dawn, the government, its allies and the military establishment are on the same page on the issue as the consultation process among the three has been completed. 

Role of the President in question
While the government has expressed the hope that President Dr Arif Alvi would not create any “hurdle” in the process, the President said, "I do not have the legal authority to stop the prime minister's advice; I have never interfered in the affairs of the state."

This comes as some media reports claimed that the President could hold the notification for 25 days.  PM’s spokesperson said, “The procedure for appointing the new army chief is following its constitutional path. Once the summary is moved, the prime minister will use his mandated powers to select the person best suited to the interests of the country and the institution.” Regarding the role of the president the spokesperson said, “He will also play his constitutional role as spelt out in the process.”

The unearthing of Bajwa's Tax Records
A report by investigative news website Fact Focus, allegedly citing tax returns and wealth statements, claimed that the COAS family had amassed billions of rupees in the last six years. The website has previously published in-depth stories on the “misappropriation of funds” by a number of politicians and other powerful sectors in Pakistan. According to the Fact Focus report, the current market value of the known assets and business of the army chief, both within and outside Pakistan, amounted to PKR 12.7 billion. The report also shared the alleged wealth statements of Gen Bajwa and his family from 2013 to 2021.

Following the report, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, “This is clearly violative of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides.” He added, “In view of this serious lapse on the part of to-date unknown functionaries, the finance minister has directed the special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha to personally lead an immediate investigation into the violation of tax law[s] and breach of Federal Board of Revnue (FBR) data, affix responsibility and submit a report within 24 hours.” (“Dar takes notice of ‘illegal, unwarranted’ leak of COAS Bajwa’s family’s tax records,” Dawn, 21 November 2022; Syed Irfan Raza, “Process for COAS selection begins today,” Dawn, 21 November 2022; “Process of appointments to top army slots has begun: Khawaja Asi,” Dawn, 21 November 2022)

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