New Delhi: Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, met with Nawaz Sharif, a former leader of that nation, in London to talk about the choice of the next army chief, which is frequently regarded as the most important job in the nation.
The meeting of the Sharif brothers was verified on a Pakistani TV channel on Thursday night by the defence minister, Asif Khawaja, who is travelling with the prime minister.
“Everything will become clear in coming few days,” he told Geo TV.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the current commander of the army, will step down on November 29. Two government ministers were contacted by Al Jazeera for remarks regarding the meeting of the Sharifs in London, but they declined.
Khawaja charged opposition figure and former prime minister Imran Khan with attempting to sway and stir up controversy surrounding the military chief’s selection.
After a week-long break owing to an attempt on his life at a rally last week, Khan’s party started its “long march” to the capital Islamabad on Thursday to seek early elections.
The government and the army have refuted Khan’s allegations that the Prime Minister Sharif, the Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and the military official Major General Faisal Naseer plotted to kill him. While his successor’s name is still unknown, General Bajwa is making farewell visits to various military.
Bajwa “advised troops to keep serving the nation with same zeal and commitment no matter what the circumstances”, according to a press release issued by the army on Thursday.
Bajwa was chosen to lead the army by Nawaz Sharif’s administration in 2016, and his initial retirement date was set for 2019. But that year, Khan, then the prime minister, gave him a three-year extension.
The army chief will not be asking for or accepting a tenure extension, according to the military’s media wing in April of this year. At a gathering in Islamabad last month, Bajwa declared that he will be retiring in the “coming five weeks.”
In its 75 years as an independent country, Pakistan has spent more than half of that time under the direct administration of the army. In a country with a population of 220 million, it is regarded as the main power broker.
Khan lost a no-confidence vote in the parliament in April, despite the fact that many people think the military assisted in his ascent to power. Khan, 70, has questioned how Pakistan’s ruling coalition, which he labels “corrupt,” could choose the next army chief on numerous occasions over the past few months.
Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, and the former president, according to Khan, want to choose a chief of their choosing to shield themselves from responsibility for corruption allegations.
The former cricketer-turned-politician, meanwhile, seems to have changed his tune recently. Speaking to reporters last week while recuperating from the gunshot wound in Lahore, Khan said he has no issues with the government choosing the next army chief.