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Bajwa gets only 6-month extension; major blow to PTI govt by judiciary

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In a major blow to the PTI government and Pakistani Army, the Supreme Court on Thursday granted conditional permission to extend country's incumbent Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure by only six months instead of three years, which Imran Khan-led government had given in August.

Announcing the verdict, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah has directed the government to complete the necessary legislation regarding the extension rules in the constitution within six months.

The bench has further directed the government to draft an amended notification with the elimination of the mention of the Supreme Court, duration of the Army chief's tenure, and the description of Army chief's salary and incentives.

At the outset of hearing on Thursday, the Chief Justice asked Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan to present the notifications regarding the extension in the tenure of former Army chief (retd) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and retirement of (retd) General Raheel Sharif.

"We were told yesterday that generals never retire," remarked the Chief Justice Khosa.

The attorney general informed the court that General Qamar Bajwa has been reappointed under Article 243, to which the CJP remarked that "you have to convince us this is legal."

After the arguments from the attorney general and Farogh Naseem, the bench stated that the court will announce the short order in the afternoon while the detailed verdict would be issued in the evening.

In the meantime, the court granted General Bajwa permission to continue working, conditionally. It further instructed the government to prepare a fresh notification, which does not list the tenure of the extension and to submit it in the court at 1 pm (local time).

It also asked for a written statement from the government that "legislation pertaining to the extension will be prepared within six months," the CJP added. "You are giving the incumbent chief a three-year extension, so what if a more capable military officer is on service? Would you grant him a thirty-year extension?" questioned the CJP.

The CJP observed that propaganda was launched against the judges as we took up the matter. "It was said that the three judges are CIA agents and are working on Indian agenda."

On this, the AGP said that the matter was discussed in India. Justice Khosa observed that this is not good that a constitutional office is being made controversial.

Bajwa, who is turning 60 next year, was due to retire from the post on November 29. His tenure had been extended by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan by three years back in August.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 28 2019. 18:32 IST
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