Tuesday, 16 August, 2022
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Pakistan’s civilian govt still doting on Army but Gen Bajwa knows things have changed

When Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa’s extension was challenged, it was believed the plea would be rejected. But then the Supreme Court sprang a surprise.

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Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa made headlines this week after Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa suspended the three-year extension in tenure given to him by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

After two days of tension, for the Army chief as well as the Imran Khan government, Gen Bajwa finally managed to get a conditional extension of six months from the Supreme Court of Pakistan Thursday.

Given the significance of Bajwa’s power in shaping up the neighbouring country’s future relationship between its civilian government and the military leadership, Pakistan’s Army chief is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.


Also read: Pakistan SC gives army chief Bajwa a 6-month extension, and a deadline to Imran Khan


Khan’s controversial move

The Supreme Court’s surprising and unprecedented initial move of staying Gen. Bajwa’s extension by suspending PM Khan’s 19 August decision had led to fears of a possible coup in Pakistan, which is known for being run by authoritarian leaders.

The extension given to Bajwa, believed to be the most powerful person in Pakistan – the Army clearly controls everything there – remains controversial because the chief himself had said last year that he was not interested in seeking an extension.

Interestingly, this also went against the stated position of none other than PM Khan himself.

When he was in the opposition challenging his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan had praised former Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif for “refusing” extension of his tenure, saying judges and generals should never be given extensions.

PM Khan’s decision also meant that the entire succession line in Pakistan Army would have changed, much to the disappointment of many serving officers.

With a three-year tenure, Gen. Bajwa would have been Chief of Army Staff (COAS) until November 2022. This meant that as many as 17 three-star generals, who could have had a chance to become the chief otherwise, would have ended up retiring before Gen. Bajwa hung his boots. While that possibility remains alive, Gen. Bajwa’s extension has been shortened from three years to six months.


Also read: Gen Bajwa will be a tyrant in Pakistan Army or a chief with little moral authority


Supreme Court’s blow

Just three days prior to Gen. Bajwa’s retirement, a three-judge bench, comprising the chief justice, Justice Mazhar Alam and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, heard a petition filed by the Jurist Foundation through its counsel advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi, which had challenged the extension and urged the Supreme Court to declare it null and void, and illegal.

It was expected that it would be a routine hearing and the petition would be rejected.

However, the Supreme Court sprang a surprise and suspended the extension Tuesday. Justice Khosa said, “Only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the Army chief.”

He also noted that only 11 out of 25 members in PM Khan’s cabinet had approved the extension.

Just hours after the order, federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem resigned from his position to become the lawyer for the government.

The cabinet also met and amended Rule 255 of the Army Regulations to include a provision for an “extension in tenure” of the chief.

The Supreme Court’s stand was a shock to everyone across the world because it was the first time that the powerful Pakistan Army was being challenged. Many believe that a section of the Army, upset at Gen. Bajwa’s extension, was behind the move to approach the Supreme Court.

However, on Thursday, Pakistan’s highest court approved a conditional extension of six months in Gen Bajwa’s tenure as the Army chief.

The order came after the Imran Khan government gave an undertaking that Pakistan’s Parliament will pass a law within six months to fix the Army chief’s tenure and other terms of service.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know why people are against the extention?
    This request has come from the government, Imran Khan is a leader that the people trust and he will want the best man for the job. Simple.
    If it means stepping on a few toes to get the country out the muck – I’d do it.

  2. The world forgets that in Muslim armed forces “the tenure of any position” depends upon the capability of the person to serve it, therefore it is not permanent but conditional.

  3. As Shekar Gupta has said a couple of times, while other countries own an army, in Pakistan, the army owns the country. This kind of issue is unique to Pakistan’ts peculiar military-civil Islamic democracy. Imran Khan has emerged as an inept and incompetent leader. It also shows that Cabinet system of government does not work in Pakistan. The honourable way out for the General is to hang up his boots at the end of six months, rather than wait for law to amended and further extension granted to him.

  4. This is pure avarice, lust for power beyond entitlement. The same thing is observed, far more often on the civilian side.

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