Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif has indicated that general elections could be held before November, as ruling PML-N leaders are in London to hold key consultations with former premier Nawaz Sharif on political and economic issues.
Asif said this in an interview with the BBC Urdu which was published on Wednesday. He was asked about the appointment of the army chief after incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire by the end of November this year.
“It is possible that elections are held before the appointment of the new army chief…It is possible that the caretaker government is replaced by a new government before November,” he said.
According to Pakistan’s Constitution, a caretaker government is set up for a maximum 90-day period to hold elections after the Parliament is dissolved. The current national Assembly will complete its term in August next year.
When asked if the the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led coalition government would extend the service of incumbent Army chief Bajwa, who was already given a second three-year term in 2019, Asif said that Bajwa has already announced that that he does not want his tenure to be extended.
“The announcement (by Bajwa) is good as it will close all doors of speculation,” he said, and added that Bajwa’s predecessor, General Raheel Sharif, had not directly or indirectly asked for extension in his service.
Asif also criticised former premier Imran Khan, alleging that he wanted to appoint an Army chief who should also look after his political interests and ensure that he should stay in power.
Asif’s announcement that elections were possible before the time came when Imran Khan, who was unceremoniously removed from office on April 9 through a no-confidence vote, has been holding big rallies to press the government to hold elections. He has also threatened to give a call for a march towards Islamabad after May 20.
The remarks by the defence minister also coincided with the meeting of PML-N leaders, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with former premier Nawaz Sharif in London. It is said that holding early elections would be among the issues to be discussed.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)