ANALYSIS: The waiting game.

AFTER the military's late-night confirmation that a summary with the names of six of the army's senior-most generals had been sent to the government, the appointment process is well and truly under way.

Amidst speculation over who will receive the baton, there are also worries that things could turn very messy before the week is out. The biggest concern in some quarters, it seems, is the possibility that the president can still greatly complicate the appointment process.

Advocate Usama Khawar Ghumman blames the government. He believes Islamabad should have initiated the appointment process much earlier, leaving no chance for the president to potentially thwart its move. Mr Ghumman thinks that the law does not require the prime minister to wait for a summary from GHQ to initiate the appointment process.

The delay in the army chief's appointment shows negligence and incompetency on the part of the government, he said.

However, political analyst Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, who heads the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat), disagrees.

He explained that outgoing chiefs usually do not wish for the early announcement of their successors so that they may exercise full powers till the last day of their tenure.

He said that the outgoing boss practically loses his authority over the force in case of any early notification.

The president's ploy

Although Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan appears to have recanted from his earlier resistance to the appointment of the new army chief by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government, there is continuing speculation that President Arif Alvi, a PTI loyalist, can potentially spoil the game.

But can he really do so, and how? The answers lie in the subtleties of the law and in the specific powers enjoyed by the head of government and the head of state under the Constitution.

The Constitution allows the president to sit on any summary sent to him by the prime minister for 15 days, and then simply return it for reconsideration. The prime minister can resend the same, unchanged summary back to the president, and this time it will be deemed approved even if not signed by the president - however, even for that to happen, the president can continue to sit on the matter for another ten days while doing nothing about it.

Then there is the equally important question of who actually calls the final shots on the army chief's appointment.

There has...

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