Pakistan cabinet rushes out draft bill on army chief extension
Government to introduce bill in Parliament on Friday after building consensus with opposition.
Pakistan federal cabinet at an urgent meeting has approved proposed amendments to the Constitution and the Army Act in order to give a three-year extension to Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's order to remove ambiguity in rules on the issue of extension in the Army chief's tenure, the government on Wednesday also decided to introduce the amendment bill in Parliament on Friday after building a consensus with the opposition on the matter, reports Dawn news.
"According to an amendment, the maximum age limit for an Army chief will be 64 years and this will be applied in case of extension in his term, but the regular age limit of COAS will be 60 years," a cabinet member said, insisting that it would be the Prime Minister's prerogative whether to give extension to the Army chief in future.
The Supreme Court in its detailed verdict released on Decemeber 16, 2019 in the case pertaining to Gen Bajwa's service extension had emphasised that it was up to Parliament to carry out legislation that would provide "certainty and predictability" to the post of the COAS for all times to come.
According to another cabinet member, the meeting approved the proposed three-year extension in the tenure of the Army chief, indicating that Gen Bajwa would continue to serve as the COAS till 2023.
Earlier in August 2019, Khan through a notification had attempted to extend the tenure of Gen Bajwa, said Dawn news.
However, finding irregularities in the manner in which the extension had been granted, the apex court suspended the government notification on November 26, 2019.
Amid heightened uncertainty as Gen Bajwa was set to retire on the night of November 28, the Supreme Court through a short order announced that in view of the government's assurances on the subject, the COAS may continue to serve for another six months during which Parliament would legislate to settle the issue of extension or re-appointment of an Army chief.
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