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Gen Bajwa’s Tenure Extended for 6 Months: PM Khan Labels Proceedings as Clash of Institutions

A short order issued by the Supreme Court has approved the extension in Army Chief General Bajwa’s tenure for 6 months, directing the government to use the parliament as a forum to usher in a legislation with regards to the Army Chief’s tenure. PM Imran Khan has termed the proceedings as a clash between the institutions.

Army

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, on Thursday, allowed the Federal Government to approve a six-month extension to incumbent Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The short order, read out By CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, ordered the government to bring into effect the required legislation within a period of six months. The order directed the parliament to devise legislation or the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff under Article 243.

Extension for 6 Months

The CJP said that the court is exercising judicial restraint and the matter has been left to the collective judgment of the parliament. The CJP observed that the three-member bench has reviewed multiple laws, including Rule 1954 and the Army Act 1952.

Earlier in the day, the court notified the Attorney General to provide a summary, for the fourth time, which would not mention the Supreme Court, exclude the reference of a three-year extension, and exclude details with regards to the salary and incentives provided to the Army Chief.

The Supreme Court had then reserved its verdict after directing the federal government to submit a fresh summary with regards to the extension awarded to the incumbent Army Chief. The three-member bench also directed the government to furnish an undertaking that it would usher in legislation on the matter within six months.

Read more: Last Chance for Gen Bajwa: Government Failing to Defend its Actions in Supreme Court

Addressing Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, the Chief Justice said, “We were being labeled as Indian and CIA agents, and agents of the fifth generation war after we examined the Army Act in yesterday’s hearing.”

The Attorney General agreed that India has taken “a lot of advantage” of the arguments conducted yesterday. The CJP remarked, “It is our right to pose questions.” The Attorney General regretted that social media is an uncontrollable force.

A Clash of Institutions

Commenting on the verdict issued by the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his “disappointment” at the forces that expected to destabilize the country.

Taking to Twitter, the Premier said, “Today must be a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilized by a clash of institutions. That this did not happen must be of special disappointment to our external enemies & mafias within.”

The Premier continued, “Mafias who have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilizing the country.”

Reminding his party’s stance for an independent judiciary, the Prime Minister said, “For the record, 23 years ago we were the first Party to advocate an independent Judiciary and Rule of Law. In 2007, PTI was at the forefront of the Movement for Independence of the Judiciary & I was jailed for it.”

He added, “Also, for the record, I have the greatest respect for CJ Khosa, one of the greatest Jurists produced by Pakistan.”

Political commentators and analysts also expressed their disappointment at the verdict announced by CJP Asif Saeed Khosa.

Read more: Should SC have intervened in General Bajwa’s extension matter?

Many opinion makers observed that this ruling would now allow the opposition another opportunity to spar with the federal government, undermining the sanctity of a prestigious institution of the country.

Jan Achakzai, a notable political commentator, observed that the verdict of the Supreme Court has caused the sensitive COAS Bajwa’s appointment to become “hostage to the whims of politicians.”

Achakzai tweeted, “Sensitive appointment should not have been held hostage to whims of politicians, re, Parliament. No Chief is responsible for legal lacunas so his appointment/extension should not have suffered.”

The Baloch analyst added, “Disappointed decision. Judiciary overstepping by stealth.”

Veteran journalist and former civil servant Hussain Saqib observed, “Six months, insecure tenure, ball in the court of corrupt-to-the-core parliamentarians to blackmail and enforce their terms, and a further review. Is it an extension of service or sword of Damocles?”

Prominent journalist Talat Hussain observed that the Supreme Court verdict will promote uncertainty with regards to the 3-year extended term of the COAS.

Hussain observed, “To take out the 3-yr term from appointment summary creates uncertainty. Will he be chief? Will he not be chief? Then next 6 months will be ALL about wooing opposition, which wants new polls. Lastly, instead of national security the debate will be all about army chief tenure.”

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