New Delhi: As opposition leader, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had famously called for the “rule of law” to be followed in opposing an extension to the country’s former Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
“In the First World War and the Second World War, no General got an extension,” Khan had said in an interview to the Express News Channel in Pakistan, arguing that rules being bent for one person weakens a system while insisting that only dictators do it.
On Monday, however, the prime minister appeared to have forgotten his own words in granting a three-year extension to incumbent Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In a notification, personally signed by Khan, the Pakistani government has defended the decision, saying “it has been taken in view of the regional security environment”.
Bajwa, appointed in November 2016 by then-PM Nawaz Sharif, was due to retire in November 2019. There is a feeling in Indian circles that his extension will see the Pakistani Army’s policy towards India to get more rigid when it comes to supporting terror.
Khan argued for institutions
In stark contrast, Khan had then argued against granting extensions, saying they weakened institutions. “When you break rules for an individual… Gen Musharraf did it, dictators do it, he destroys that institution.”
He further said that it is important in Pakistan to make the institutions stronger and make the systems more powerful.
When asked specifically if he would oppose if an extension is given to Kayani, he said the rule of law applied to all, be it Army or the judiciary. “Rule of law should be followed,” he said.
Below is the transcript of the Imran Khan interview:
Khan: Even during the time of the First and Second World Wars, nobody was given any extension. When you are breaking the law, you destroy institutions and go beyond the realms of law as other dictators including General Musharaf did.
If we have to save this country, we have to strengthen our institutions and society and this is possible only when our law is strengthened.
(Journalist: Do you think General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani should not have been granted an extension?)
No general nor judge should get an extension because it will weaken the respective organisation. See how much General Pervez Musharraf weakened the army, whereas, in Pakistan, the army is given highest regard. There should be a unifying law which should bind all the citizens in equal measures.
— Snehesh Alex Philip (@sneheshphilip) August 19, 2019