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Pakistan

Constitution to be followed in COAS’s appointment: PM

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ISLAMABAD:

The issue of the appointment of the next army chief continued to occupy the centre stage of the national political discourse on Friday, with the government taking the pains to state that it would be done according to the Constitution.

The statement came as the matter of the imminent change of guard gets mired in controversy amid widespread speculations.

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The extended stay of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with his key advisers in London purportedly to discuss the key appointment and other issues of national importance with his elder brother Nawaz Sharif heightened confusion and sparked rumours about the issue.

The prime minister left London for the country late Friday night after holding what media reports said a crucial meeting with his elder brother on the issue. Later, the prime minister stated that the constitutional path would be followed while deciding the name of the next army chief.

Moreover, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif took to Twitter to state that the PML-N leadership had only deliberated upon choosing the outgoing chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s successor but no final decision has so far been taken in this regard.

The minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the elder Sharif along with senior party leadership had mulled over the name of the new military czar in London and added that a “final decision would be taken once the constitutional process formally begins”.

Asif, while speaking at a press conference last month, had said that the appointment procedure would commence at the start of November. Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa is set to retire on Nov 29.

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The minister’s tweet came after news reports stated that the PML-N’s top brass has decided in its London meeting that the senior-most army officer would be made the new military chief.

The premier and defence minister, among others, went to London seeking elder Sharif’s guidance on the crucial appointment, among other developments.

Since PM Shehbaz departed for London after attending the COP-27 conference in Egypt, it was conjectured that his visit’s main purpose was to finalize the name of the new army chief in consultation with his brother, who has made several such appointments in past.

The details were later confirmed by Asif and several other PML-N leaders that the appointment of the army chief was the top agenda of the London huddle. However, the PML-N leadership has been exercising extreme care in issuing statements regarding the appointment of the new military chief.

When approached for a comment, the defence minister only shared his tweet, which states that there were speculations in the media that a decision has been taken regarding the appointment of the army chief in the Shehbaz-Nawaz meeting in London, adding there has definitely been consultation in this regard but the decision would be taken after consultation once the constitutional process starts.

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Asif didn’t clearly refute the news reports that clearly stated that the PML-N leadership has decided to pick the senior-most army officer as the new chief.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb also refrained from confirming or denying any such reports and preferred to share Asif’s tweet when asked to clear the air on the issue.
Apart from Asif’s tweet, the PML-N leadership has kept a mum after the crucial London meeting.

READ Nawaz will never let COAS to be appointed on merit: Imran

Political analysts say that PM Shehbaz was there for consultation with Nawaz Sharif and they must have decided on a name that PM would present to coalition parties, therefore, one could say that at least PML-N has reached a decision about the new military chief.

However, when asked about it, the information minister didn’t say anything. When specifically asked if the news reports about picking the senior-most officer were incorrect or false, Asif also preferred to stay quiet. Earlier, while answering a journalist’s question after meeting with Nawaz Sharif, PM Shehbaz said that the issue of the appointment of the army chief was a constitutional matter and will be dealt with according to the constitution.

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In an interview with a media outlet, Asif had earlier said that the summary for the new military chief was moved after November 18 on previous occasions, saying there was still a week’s time left and hopefully things would timely and smoothly conclude in this regard.

On November 11, it emerged that the political huddle in London could not choose Bajwa’s successor.
Sources in PML-N had, however, revealed that it was decided in the meeting that the government would not succumb to any pressure from any quarters regarding the new military chief, including PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

During his back-to-back meetings with Nawaz, PM Shehbaz and PML-N leadership discussed not only discussed the appointment of a new army chief but analyzed the recent statements from the military’s media wing, the government’s strategy to deal with the PTI’s long march, among other things.

Sources in the PML-N had revealed that the government was clear in its mind that it wanted stable relations with the establishment, adding the plan was to achieve “reverse engineering” and to appoint a military chief, who does not force the government for early elections.

“Agreeing for the snap polls or giving a date for early elections would be tantamount to committing political suicide,” the source had said. Surprising as it may seem, the source had added, neither the government nor the establishment could afford elections right now or anytime soon keeping the precarious economic situation and floods that have caused havoc in the country.

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“Things would not settle until the appointment of the new army chief,” the source had admitted, saying the premier’s sudden departure to the UK was in line with the evolving situation, especially, after the army chief began farewell meetings.

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that the next army chief will be announced before November 29. “When the prime minister returns to the country, he will make the announcement in the next few days or two.”

He said the prime minister had his “eye” on the issue and the announcement would be done at the “appropriate time”. Iqbal said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will only have one criterion for the army chief’s appointment, maintaining Pakistan’s impenetrable defence and taking the military’s professionalism to a higher standard.

“We have to do the army chief’s appointment on a professional, instead of political, basis.”
Iqbal said the issue was a “routine appointment” and speculation should be avoided on the matter. He criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for being the only politician in the country’s history to play politics on the army chief’s appointment.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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