Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been granted six months conditional extension by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The apex court ruled in a biref order that General Bajwa can stay as army chief for six more months and directed the government to complete the necessary legislation regarding the extension rules in the constitution. The court said that the necessary legislation must be completed within six months. The top court’s ruling comes in the nick of time as Gen Bajwa was set to retire at midnight on Thursday.
The Supreme Court on Thursday in its short order announced that Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will remain the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on the extension/reappointment of an army chief, Dawn news reported. General Bajwa’s term may be extended to full three year after six months once the legislation is done.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to twitter immediatley after the court verdict and criticised those who were expecting clash between the institutions after the Supreme Court had suspended the army chief’s extension notification issued by him. “Today must be a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilised by a clash of institutions. That this did not happen must be of special disappointment to our external enemies & mafias within,” he tweeted.
“Mafias who have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilising the country,’ he said in another tweet and added: “For the record, 23 yrs ago we were the first Party to advocate an independent Judiciary and Rule of Law. In 2007, PTI was in the forefront of the Movement for Independence of the Judiciary & I was jailed for it. Also, for the record, I have the greatest respect for CJ Khosa, one of the greatest Jurists produced by Pakistan.”
The verdict was announced around 3:45pm, prior to which the court had asked the government to submit the following:
An undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation in this regard within six months
An amended notification of General Bajwa’s extension
The amendments to the notification included the elimination of:
The mention of the Supreme Court
Duration of the army chief’s tenure
The description of army chief’s salary and incentives
The court, while pronouncing the decision, said that the government has been given six months to legislate on the matter.
The court observed that the matter of the army chief’s reappointment or extension was challenged. It also observed that the government kept changing its stance, sometimes referring to a reappointment and other times mentioning an extension.
The court noted that a new summary notification had been presented to it today according to which Gen Bajwa has been appointed as Chief of Army Staff.
His new appointment will begin on November 28 with a six-month extension given in view of legislation required. General Bajwa who was set to retire on November 29, had earlier been given three-year extension by Prime Minister Imran Khan in august this year. However, the decision was challenged in the court.
Before adjourning the hearing briefly on Thursday morning, the chief justice told former law minister of Pakistan Farogh Naseem that the government should submit a written statement to ensure that the parliament will legislate on the matter within six months.
“If legislation is not done within six months, the appointment will become illegal,” he warned.