LAHORE -  Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif is due to retire on November 29 and everybody is waiting for the moment the prime minister exercises his constitutional power to appoint his successor.

The Supreme Court has issued notices for Nov 1 to the prime minister and some of his family members requiring them to explain their positions with regard to the allegations levelled through various petitions based on the Panama papers leaks.

The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf is making all possible efforts to bring maximum people to lock down Islamabad on Nov 2. The declared objective of the open-ended sit-in is to mount pressure on the prime minister to step down or offer himself for accountability. The PML-N leadership, on the other hand, is approaching other parties to request them that they should not join hands with the PTI. Strict administrative measures are also being considered to bar the protesters from entering the twin cities.

And media reports suggest that the civil-military relations are tense, also because of a report published about a fortnight ago by an English language newspaper that the army is a hurdle in action against militant organisations the elected government wants to take to task.

These are the most-discussed subjects these days. People have their own assessments about the likely future scenarios.

There are many who insist that the PTI’s protest plans enjoy the establishment’s backing, something vehemently denied by the party of the cricketer-turned-politician. There are also assertions that the Nov 2 crowds in Islamabad will be beyond anybody’s imagination as some “invisible forces” will also be bringing their supporters out on the streets.

Whatever the factual position, national interest demands that all relevant parties should play their roles very responsibly to save the country from any future crises.

The PTI, for example, is left with no justification to go ahead with its Nov 2 lockdown plan at a time the country’s top court has taken up the Panama leaks issue. The party should produce whatever proofs it has against the premier or his family members before the three-judge bench and then wait for its verdict. Judicial proceedings and protests can’t go together.

The Supreme Court will be doing a great favour to the nation by deciding the matter in the shortest possible time, disallowing any party from using delaying tactics. Similarly, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who is heading the bench, should restrain the PTI from staging the sit-in when the matter is pending before the court. If the honourable chief justice can say that monarchy is being practised in the name of democracy and bad governance in the name of governance, there will be nothing wrong if he uses his powers to avert the “invasion” of the federal capital.

And the prime minister should designate the new COAS without delay. Such a step would change the political situation immediately and all speculations would come to an end.

The speculations about who the new COAS will be are being made because it is the prime minister’s prerogative to pick the new man - on the basis of seniority or otherwise. Had the seniority been the only yardstick, there would have been no guessing game going on.

It is an open secret that Mian Nawaz Sharif had appointed Gen Pervez Musharraf as COAS because he had “no roots” in the institution and thus was not in a position to pose any threat to the government. “Edha agga pichha koi nahi” was the logic the prime minister offered when a veteran journalist (not in this world at present) had asked him why he had selected Gen Musharraf for the top post.

Then what the man, who supposedly did not have roots in the institution, did to the prime minister and his family is now history.

If the prime minister had strengthened his position as a “he-man” by forcing Musharraf’s predecessor Gen Jehangir Karamat to resign as COAS after he had proposed the establishment of a national security council and criticised the accountability process, he had to face banishment along with his family when he ignored the seniority list and appointed the Urdu-speaking general on the recommendation of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

There is a system to promote military officials to the rank of lieutenant generals and draw a seniority list. If the seniority list is adhered to and in routine the senior most is selected as the COAS, no general will have to find intercessors to get elevated. And the appointment of the army chief will no more be a news for anyone.

The government will also be removing a major cause of tension with the military leadership by identifying those responsible for leaking or feeding the controversial news item and taking stern action against them, as promised by the prime minister.