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Pakistan’s new Army chief should have flawless reputation: Maryam Nawaz

Pakistan’s new Army chief should be a person of “flawless” reputation, ruling coalition leader Maryam Nawaz said on Thursday on Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s remarks that former ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed’s name could be considered for the top post.

PML-N Vice-president Maryam has been critical of General Hameed due to his alleged role as the ISI chief in supporting former prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), though the Army always rejected such allegations.

“The nation looks at the Army for the unity and security of Pakistan. So it is important that the Army chief is a person who is worthy and flawless so that people salute the Pakistan Army,” Maryam, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said at a press conference when asked about the defence minister’s remarks.

Incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire by the end of November this year.

General Faiz Hameed served as the ISI chief from June 16, 2019, to October 19, 2021, and is currently posted as the Peshawar Corps Commander.

Her comments followed after she told a public rally in the Fateh Jang area of Punjab province last week that Imran Khan used the former spy chief to “throttle” his opponents.

“We know that he (Hameed) wasn’t your eyes and ears, rather he was your (Khan’s) hands through which you throttled your political opponents,” she said.

Earlier, Khan in a recent podcast appearance said the intelligence chief was the “eyes and ears” of the government and his difference with the Army began when he wanted Hameed to continue as the ISI chief while he was posted as Corps Commander Peshawar last year.

Defence Minister Asif in his interview with the BBC Urdu this week had said that “If his (Hameed) name is on the seniority list, it will definitely be considered (for Army chief).” Separately, former president Asif Ali Zardari in his press talk on Wednesday also passed critical remarks about General Hameed by saying that “he (Hameed) has been sidelined” when posted out of the spy agency.

Later Zardari said that his sidelines remarks were being quoted out of context. But the Army in a statement on Thursday said the Peshawar Corps was a prominent formation and its leadership was “in highly professional hands”.

It said that remarks against the Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Hameed by a “senior politician” were “extremely unfit”. “Such statements negatively impact the morale and honour of the army and its leadership,” the Army said.

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