The controversy over the new appointments in Pakistan’s military refused to die down with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday saying that he would announce the names for two key posts at the same time. He did not specify when he would do so.

General Khalid Shameem Wynne, the outgoing Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) was to retire on Monday after 42 years of service but there is no one named to replace him yet. On Sunday, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani created a sensation by scotching rumours about his future, announcing that he would retire on November 29 as scheduled. Speculation was rife that General Kayani would be the new head of the CJCSC which would be given more powers or that he would be given some other plum posting.

According to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson at a meeting on the appointment of the new (CJCSC) on Monday, Mr. Sharif said that his government is fully cognizant of its constitutional obligations and he will take a decision keeping the interest of the country supreme.

While there were expectations regarding the announcement of a successor to the outgoing CJCSC before October 8, and the retirement of the army Chief on November 29, both are reasonably important issues which need comprehensive considerations. The Prime Minister has therefore decided to announce the names for both the appointments at the same time, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, most people have welcomed General Kayani’s decision to retire after two terms but Monday’s development has added a new dimension to the issue. “The government has been foxed by the sudden announcement by General Kayani who loves surprising others,” remarked Major-General (retired) Athar Abbas, former military spokesperson and ex- director general Inter Services Public Relations. He said the situation was quite unprecedented as these appointments are made well in advance. Now by deciding to announce both names together the government wants to gain time.