- Sharif, kitchen cabinet fails to decide on new COAS, CJCSC
- Kayani likely to be given additional charge today or tomorrow
- Senior analyst accuses Nawaz of failing to act timely, indecisiveness
With Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Khalid Shamim Wyne hanging his boots on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his core group failed to choose his successor after a long debate and it has been finally decided to delay the appointment, so that the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and CJCSC could be announced simultaneously, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
A well-placed source in the government said the meeting, however, decided to give the charge of CJCSC to General Kayani as a stop-gap arrangement and it was highly likely that Kayani would be asked to takeover both offices in a day or two.
Following the announcement of General Ashfaq Kayani to retire on November 29, the prime minister extended his stay in Lahore and a meeting was convened to deliberate upon the successors to General Kayani and General Wyne.
“However, the meeting ended without any conclusion and it was decided that the matter would be taken up again soon. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have been tasked to come up with some feedback,” the source said, without divulging further details.
Chairing the meeting, the prime minister said his government was “fully cognisant of its constitutional obligations” and he would take every decision keeping the interest of the country supreme.
However, noted defence analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi shot down the claim of the prime minister’s media team, saying Nawaz was in habit of failing to take timely and right decisions that reflected weakness and his track record was privy to this fact.
About the meeting held at Lahore, he said the expectations regarding announcement of successor to outgoing CJCSC before October 8 and retirement of army chief on November 29 were reasonably important issues that needed comprehensive considerations.
“The prime minister has, therefore, decided to announce the names for both the appointments at the same time,” an official handout said.
But Hasan Askari Rizvi laughed off the claims, saying flawed decision-making and lack of a clear-headed approach was a major weakness of Sharif.
“I wonder when the media was abuzz with the deadlines about the retirement of top army officers, why the prime minister failed to comprehend the matter and did not take a decision. So as of today, the office of CJCSC has fallen vacant and no one has been given additional charge either,” he added.
The office of chairman JCSC is no more ceremonial, as the same is responsible for the safety and advancement of the country’s strategic assets.
Rizvi said the dilemma of Nawaz was that he wanted to follow the principle of seniority in appointment of the next COAS, but he and his colleagues were afraid to appoint Lt General Haroon Aslam, who was the senior-most, but was a commando.
The Sharifs were last ousted by General (r) Pervez Musharraf, a commando as well, in the plane hijacking case, and it was Musharraf who was instrumental in elevating General Haroon Aslam.
“Sharif wants to appoint Lt General Rashid, who hails from Lahore. But if he goes for number two, his claims made on electronic media to follow seniority would be razed to the ground,” he added.
He said under the given situation, it was most likely that General Kayani would also be given additional charge of CJCSC. This would help prime minister get sufficient time to decide the new army chief and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee sometime next month, but well before November 29.
Referring to the indecisiveness of Nawaz in important decisions, Rizvi said his track record was reflective of his failure to calling the shots at the right time.
“Just take the case when the then COAS General Asif Nawaz Janjua died in January 1993. Nawaz Sharif hesitated to take a decision. His hesitation to make a decision provoked then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to appoint General Kakar as COAS against the will of Nawaz, who had opposed Kakar’s appointment but could not name a successor to General Asif Nawaz,” Rizvi said.
He added that the appointment of Kakar increased the gulf between Sharif and Ishaq Khan and when the tensions reached historic highs, Kakar sent both Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Khan home.
He said that the same situation again cropped up when differences cropped up between Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf soon after the Kargil operation in 1999. Nawaz hesitated to take any action against the general and rather offered him the slot of chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Within two weeks following the decision, October 12 incident took place and Nawaz was ousted in a counter coup.