LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday lashed out at the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — major coalition partners in the incumbent government — saying both parties were opposing snap elections, because they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their choice” in November to save their skin in corruption cases.

Addressing a rally in Fais­alabad, the former prime minister said PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif were making all-out efforts to bring their “favourite” army chief after the retirement of the incumbent chief in November this year. The new army chief should be chosen on merit, he said, adding Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif were “traitors” and should not be trusted with the fate of the country.

“They want to bring their own army chief…they are afraid that if a strong and patriotic army chief is appointed then he would ask them about the looted wealth,” Mr Khan said, adding that the PPP and PML-N chiefs were sticking to the power because of the fear of accountability.

Read: Who will be the next army chief?

“They are sitting [in the government] because they want to bring in an army chief of their choice through joint efforts,” he added. Imran Khan said the army chief should be “appointed on merit…whoever is on the top of the merit list should be appointed” to head the institution.

Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was appointed in 2016, is set to retire in the last week of November. The army chief’s appointment is meant to be for three years, but Gen Bajwa was given an additional three-year term in 2019 after a bit of political drama.

Imran Khan further said the opposition leaders were afraid of holding snap elections because they know they will be wiped out from political arena when elections are held in the country.

He also bashed the coalition government over the state of the economy and quoted a report by the International Monetary Fund which, according to Mr Khan, had warned of unrest in Pakistan due to precarious economic situation. He added that early general elections were the only option to bring political and economic stability in the country.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2022

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