Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, on Monday, established a three-member committee to spearhead the initiative of ironing out new legislation on the extension and reappointment of the Chief of Army Staff’s (COAS) tenure.
This decision has emerged after a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, approved a conditional extension of six months for Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, giving the government a six-month period to legislate the issue and straighten out the lacunae in the extension of the tenure.
The three-member committee established by the Federal government includes Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister for Planning Asad Umar.
Very interesting likely scenario: Govt will have until May 2020 to enact law. So under that new law a proper notification of Gen Bajwa’s 3 year term expected in May 2020 which means he’ll be the COAS till 2023 and will probably retire after 2023 polls. This is called continuity pic.twitter.com/ki623RJHos
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) November 28, 2019
The members of the committee will also engage in a debate on the new legislation with the opposition parties in the parliament. The Imran Khan-led government is hopeful that the required legislation will be drafted and passed within six months.
During the momentous hearings on the Gen Bajwa extension case in the Supreme Court, the three-member bench led by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa issued a verdict after the Attorney General, Anwar Masood Khan submitted an undertaking, signed by the government, that the parliament will usher in a new law on this matter within six months.
The SC verdict prevented a major crisis as the incumbent Chief of Army Staff was due to retire on Thursday midnight.
On November 24, the Supreme Court suspended a notification issued by Prime Minister Imran Khan in August for the reappointment of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa until 2022, on the basis of “procedural loopholes”.
A short order issued by the apex court stated, “Considering that the COAS is responsible for the command, discipline, training, administration, organization and preparedness for war of the army and is the chief executive in the General Headquarters, we, while exercising judicial restraint, find it appropriate to leave the matter to the parliament and the federal government to clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the COAS through an Act of Parliament and to clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution in this regard.”
Authority to extend tenure of COAS rests with PM who reps Parliament&people of Pakistan. Army as an institution & GenBajwa as its head have been excellent custodians of our borders,with situation in the region it was the perfect decision.Good luck today COAS!#Extension_Army_Chief
— Sayed Z Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) November 28, 2019
The order added, “Therefore, the current appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS shall be subject to the said legislation and shall continue for a period of six months from today, whereafter the new legislation shall determine his tenure and other terms and conditions of service.”
A day after the Supreme Court verdict was issued, the incumbent government began revealing its inclination to initiate dialogue with the opposition on the required legislation. The Imran Khan-led government has urged the parliament to review all existing laws with regards to the Army Chief’s position and is committed to obtaining support from the opposition leadership.
Reports suggest that Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to meet with opposition leaders, including PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and others.
Sources add that the Federal Government may even call an all-party conference to debate over the required legislation.