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Pak SC adjourns until Thursday Army chief Bajwa's extension case


Press Trust of India Islamabad
Pakistan's top court on Wednesday adjourned until Thursday the hearing of a crucial case whose outcome may block the powerful Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa from serving another three-year term.
Prime Minister Imran Khan through an official notification of August 19 granted a three-year extension to General Bajwa, citing "regional security environment".
Bajwa's original tenure is set to expire on November 29 and he can continue as the army chief if the Supreme Court decides the case in his favour before Friday.
"There is still time. The government should step back and assess what it is doing," said Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is heading a three-member apex court bench comprising Justices Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.
"They should not do something like this with a high-ranking officer," the chief justice said, referring to the extension of the army chief's tenure.
Farogh Naseem, who resigned from his post as law minister on Tuesday to pursue the case represented Gen Bajwa, while Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan presented arguments on behalf of the government.
Khan said that the process was "nothing new" and "extensions were notified in the same manner in the past."

Responding to his argument, Justice Alam said, "In the past the court never stepped in to assess someone's extension in tenure."

The proceedings were adjourned until Thursday, Dawn reported.
Chief Justice Khosa in an unprecedented move on Tuesday suspended the government's order citing legal lacunas. The petition against Gen Bajwa's extension was filed by a person named Raiz Rahi.
After the top court's order on Tuesday, the Cabinet amended Section 255 of the Army Rules and Regulations and included the words extension in tenure to meet the legal lacuna in the rule.
According to reports, the Cabinet in its two sittings, prepared a new summary for the extension and sent it to President Arif Alvi for approval, Geo news reported.
Prime Minister Khan and President Alvi approved a fresh notification, the report said.
At Wednesday's hearing, the chief justice said the matter of the period of army chief's tenure is very important.
"In the past, five or six generals have granted themselves extensions. We will look at this matter closely so that this does not happen in the future. This is an extremely important matter [and] the Constitution is quiet about this," he added.
"According to the law, during a war, the army chief can stop officers' retirements," Khosa said. "However, the government wants to stop the army chief's retirement."

Justice Shah pointed out that Article 243 of the Constitution talks about the appointment of an officer and asked: "Does it mention the period of appointment as well?"

He asked if a general can continue to work if his tenure is extended two days before his retirement.
"Where does it say that it is a three-year term (for an extension)?" he asked. The attorney general admitted that the period of the tenure is not specified in the rules.
Justice Khosa emphasised that the court was looking at the rules regarding the tenure of the army chief, not a general.
"If something is wrong as per the law, we cannot say that it is correct. If [the decision] is not correct as per the law, we will give our verdict," Justice Khosa remarked.
The powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has wielded considerable power in deciding matters concerning security and foreign policies.
The Army so far has not commented on the development.
Gen Bajwa is the second army chief to get full term extension in recent times. Earlier, Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was given a full term in 2010.
Prime Minister Khan and Gen Bajwa have been working closely. Bajwa accompanied Khan on his maiden US visit during which he met US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Khan had also nominated Bajwa as a member of the National Development Council, in an unprecedented move.
When Bajwa was appointed army chief by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he superseded three other generals.

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First Published: Nov 27 2019 | 6:15 PM IST

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