Pakistan’s apex court suspends Army Chief Gen. Bajwa’s job extension


By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Representative

Islamabad: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Tuesday suspended the government’s notification of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure extension until the top court’s hearing on Wednesday.

The chief justice observed that “the summary and approval of army chief’s extension is not correct”.

The court issued notices to defence ministry, federal government and Gen Bajwa, who is due to retire on November 29 (Friday). The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.

On August 19, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved an extension in the tenure of Gen Bajwa for another three years.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure,” the brief notification issued by the prime minister’s office had said.

The Jurists Foundation had filed a petition challenging the extension in Gen Bajwa’s tenure but later submitted an application to withdraw petition. The top judge however rejecting the application took it up in public interest under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution. The case was converted into a suo moto notice.

The court cross-questioned Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor Khan during which it transpired that the notification of extension was issued on August 19 but the prime minister approved it on August 21.

“Cabinet’s approval was required,” AG Anwar Mansoor responded. “The prime minister signed the notification after the cabinet’s approval.”

“After the cabinet gave its approval, did the president approve it again?” the chief justice asked, to which the attorney general responded in the negative.

“Only the president of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the army chief,” said CJP Khosa.

Justice Khosa then noted that out of 25 cabinet members, only 11 had approved the extension.

“Fourteen members of the cabinet did not give any opinion due to non-availability,” Justice Khosa said. “Did the government take their silence as agreement?”

“Those who did not say ‘yes’ had not taken part in the voting,” the AG informed the court.

“Does the cabinet not want to give members the time to think? The 14 members of the cabinet still have not said ‘yes’ to army chief’s extension,” the top judge noted.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, who was part of the three-judge bench hearing the case, also observed: “No reasons for extensions were debated in the cabinet.”

In a verbal order following the hearing, the court said that the prime minister had issued a notification of Gen Bajwa’s “appointment in his own capacity on August 19”.

The court was told that the extension was granted in light of the regional security situation. “Dealing with regional security situation is the job of the army as an institution, not just that of an officer’s,” court observed.

“If the regional security situation reasoning is accepted, then every army officer would want a re-appointment.”

“The attorney general could not present any legal reason for an extension in tenure or a new appointment,” the court observed.

This is first time in history of Pakistan that the judiciary has suspended the service extension of any Army Chief.

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