Pak SC questions rules on army chief’s tenure extension in Bajwa’s case

Pakistan, Supreme Court, army chief, tenure extension, Army General, Qamar Javed Bajwa, three-year term, President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa
Prime Minister Imran Khan, through an official notification of August 19, granted a three-year extension to General Qamar Javed Bajwa, citing "regional security environment". File photo: PTI

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday (November 27) questioned the rules related to the extension of any army chief’s tenure as it heard a crucial case whose outcome may block the current head of the Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa from serving another three-year term.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, through an official notification of August 19, granted a three-year extension to General Bajwa, citing “regional security environment”. Bajwa’s original tenure is set to expire on November 29.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in an unprecedented move on Tuesday (November 26) suspended the government’s order citing legal lacunas. The petition against Bajwa’s extension was filed by a person named Raiz Rahi.

After the top court’s order on Tuesday, the Cabinet amended Section 255 of the Army Rules and Regulations and included the words “extension in tenure to meet the legal lacuna” in the rule.

Also read: Pak Army Chief General Bajwa gets three-year extension

According to reports, the Cabinet in its two sittings, prepared a new summary for the extension and sent it to President Arif Alvi for approval, Geo news reported. Prime Minister Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi approved a fresh notification, the report said.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah resumed the hearing in the case on Wednesday.

Bajwa is being represented by Farogh Naseem, who resigned from his post as law minister yesterday to pursue the case.

At the hearing, Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor Khan took to the rostrum and said he wished to “clarify something”, Dawn newspaper reported. “I referred to army rules yesterday. The court wrote law in its order,” the AG said, to which the chief justice said, “The court had given its order after looking at your documents.”

Also read: Pakistan Army prepared to ‘go to any extent’ to help Kashmiris: Gen Bajwa

“The matter of the period of army chief’s tenure is very important,” the report quoted the chief justice as saying. “In the past, five or six generals have granted themselves extensions. We will look at this matter closely so that this does not happen in the future. This is an extremely important matter [and] the Constitution is quiet about this,” he added.

“According to the law, during a war, the army chief can stop officers’ retirements,” Khosa said. “However, the government wants to stop the army chief’s retirement,” he added.

The Pakistan Army, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has wielded considerable power in deciding matters concerning security and foreign policies.

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