Pakistan top court extends Army chief Bajwa's tenure
General Bajwa's extension by PM Imran Khan has stirred up controversy in the country.
The Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday, in a short order, ruled that Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa will remain the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on extension of an army chief's tenure.
Also read: PM Imran Khan reacts to order
A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, announced the much-anticipated verdict after being assured by the government that parliament will pass legislation within six months, The Dawn reported.
The verdict was announced around 3.45 pm, prior to which the court had asked the government to submit an undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation in this regard within six months and an amended notification.
The top court's ruling comes in the nick of time as Gen Bajwa was set to retire at midnight. Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended Bajwa's tenure through a notification in August, but the top court suspended it on November 26 due to irregularities in the manner of extension.
The government has been asked to submit the following:
- An undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation in this regard within six months
- An amended notification
The amendments will include the elimination of:
- The mention of the Supreme Court
- Duration of the army chief's tenure
- The description of army chief's salary and incentives
As Gen Bajwa was set to retire at midnight, today's hearing was the last opportunity for the government to satisfy the court on the legal grounds of the move.
The court had been holding hearings this week and said Thursday that it would release its decision in the afternoon, ahead of the midnight deadline for Bajwa's term to expire.
The episode is especially damaging to Khan's administration, which is seen as close to Bajwa.
"This is a landmark case: unprecedented questions are being raised, threatening to upend the accepted status quo, and holding a mirror to society's psyche," Pakistan's leading English daily Dawn wrote in an editorial.
Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the massively popular General Raheel Sharif, who won the hearts of millions with his blistering fight against militants.
Bajwa is the latest in a long line of Pakistani military generals who have seen their mandates extended.
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