Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. – A file photo

Federal Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has hinted at snap elections later in November this year.

In a interview with the BBC Urdu, Mr Asif said that the government may opt for polls for even before the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff later in November this year.

He said that there was also possibility of a new government taking over before the November.

To a question regarding the COAS extension, he said that General Qamar Javed Bajwa himself has announced to retire later in November this year. “I consider this announcement as good omen as it has laid speculation to the rest,” he said.

Mr Asif said that even former COAS General Raheel Sharif had not demanded extension.

The Defense Minister also called for ‘institutionalizing ‘the appointment of army chief similar to the judiciary.

He said that there should not any speculation regarding how is going to be the COAS in 2028.”In my opinion this appointment should be on 100 merits without any speculation or political discussion,” he said.

Regarding PTI criticism of military leadership, Mr Asif agreed with the DG ISPR statement that army cannot defend itself on public platforms.”The military could not defend itself on public platforms like media and parliament,” he said.

However, he said that they will defend the neutral role of the establishment. “Army and judiciary and cannot speak and we who are allowed to speak legally will defend them,” he said.

He said that if someone equates neutrality to being animals, then it was his duty to respond to such statements.

Regarding action against former premier Imran Khan, he said that though he believed following legal procedures on such issues; however, did not want to make a political martyr out of him.

Mr Asif said that COAS appointment should not be politicized. However, he added that former premier Imran Khan wanted a COAS who could have prolonged his rule.

“We will consider the General Faiz Hameed name if it is in the seniority list,” he said.

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