Supreme Court suspends notification extending Army Chief’s tenure for time being

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa's extension notification has been suspended by the Supreme Court of Pakistan until the next hearing tomorrow.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has suspended the notification allowing the extension of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Notices have been issued to the Army Chief, Attorney General of Pakistan and the Ministry of Defence.

The Supreme Court heard a petition challenging the extension of the tenure of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa today (Tuesday).

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was due to take retirement on November 29 this year, after completing his three-year term, was to serve his post until November 2022 after Prime Minister Imran Khan extended his tenure for another three years.

As per the official communique issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, General Bajwa’s tenure was extended in light of the “regional security environment.”

The notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office stated, “General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure.”

Petition Challenging Gen Bajwa’s Extension

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Mazhar Alam presided over the hearing.

The petition was filed by the Jurist Foundation, through its lawyer Riaz Hanif Rahi, who has appealed to the Supreme Court to declare Gen Bajwa’s extension as “null, void and illegal.”

The application was rejected, however, Chief Justice took up the petition in public interest under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

“Only the president of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the army chief,” he said during the hearing.

Last week, the incumbent government has dismissed the speculations regarding the extension in the tenure of the Chief of Army Staff after clarifying that the “notification for the reappointment of General Qamar as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another tenure had already been issued on August 19, 2019.”

Read more: General Qamar Bajwa’s Extension as Army Chief: The Right Decision?

Another petition challenging General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension has been filed in the Islamabad High Court. Petitioner, Shahid Orakzai, maintains in his petition that the three-year extension awarded to General Bajwa is a violation of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, as “that law does not give two terms to any military officer.”

The petitioner further added that such an extension “tends to frustrate the rank and file of the Pakistan Army.”

The petitioner demands that the decision made by Prime Minister Imran Khan on General Bajwa’s extension be declared invalid, alongside directing the Secretary Defense to immediately initiate the process of appointing a new Chief of Army Staff in accordance with the Clause (4) of the Article 243.

Gen Bajwa’s extension was received as one of the most controversial headlines across the country this year, and while many applauded the extension, many came forward to oppose the decision, criticizing that it is a violation of the norms of the Pakistan Army.

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