A Day to Go? Will SC Prevail to Block Pak Army Chief Extension?
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is on the edge as he has to retire tomorrow, Nov 28, 2019 in case the petition seeking grant of extension to him is not dismissed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Bureaucratic bungling and incompetence may be behind the current impasse with the Supreme Court of Pakistan noticing the flawed process in grant of extension to the Army Chief or is there more to be read in the judgement-
That there were procedural flaws in grant of extension to General Bajwa was well known right from the day the order was issued from Prime Minister Khan’s office.
Thus in a landmark judgement which set Islamabad and Rawalpindi afire, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Nov 26 blocked extension of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa
The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa who too is retiring in a few days, heard petition against the extension in the tenure of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa today (Nov 26)).
Jurists Foundation through Riaz Hanif Rahi filed a petition urging to declare the extension null and void, and illegal. The counsel made the federal government as respondent.
In August last, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved three-year extension in the tenure of General Bajwa. “General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure,” a notification issued from the Prime Minister’s Office had said.
OMG WHAT A NEWS !!!!
Supreme Court of Pakistan suspends notification of Army Chief’s General Bajwa extension.
More power to justice Khosa !! Sir !! Plz stick with your decision.#SupremeCourt #COAS #Bajwa
#?????????_??????? pic.twitter.com/9X6eDyUVWq— Faisal (@FaisalViewss) November 26, 2019
According to the official record placed before the SC, as envisaged in the apex court’s order, President Arif Alvi approved the summary seeking extension of Army Chief on 19th August 2019.
Supreme Court’s order suspending the notification for the Army Chief’s extension says, “In the case in hand the prime minister had himself passed an order appointing the current Chief of the Army Staff for a second term in that office on 19.08.2019 whereas under Article 243 of the Constitution it is the president who is the appointing authority for that office. Apparently that mistake came to notice straightaway and on the same day, i.e. 19.08.2019 a summary was moved from the Prime Minister’s Office to the president for extension/re-appointment of the incumbent Chief of the Army Staff and on that very day, i.e. 19.08.2019 the president was pleased to approve the summary in that regard and, hence, the advice of the prime minister was apparently accepted and acted upon. It appears that even that process was found to be flawed and on that very day it was realised that the prime minister or the president could not take the above mentioned actions without the approval of the cabinet and, thus, on the next day, i.e. 20.08.2019 a summary was moved in the relevant regard for approval of the cabinet and on 21.08.2019 the cabinet was said to have approved the said proposal through circulation. The opinion of the cabinet recorded in this regard, photocopies whereof have been produced before us, shows that there are 25 members of the cabinet and out of those 25 members only 11 had agreed to the proposal which shows that the majority of the cabinet had not approved the said proposal. Yet another peculiar aspect is that after the purported or so-called approval of the cabinet regarding extension/re-appointment of the incumbent Chief of the Army Staff the matter was never sent to the prime minister or the president again for the purposes of a fresh advice or a fresh order of the prime minister and the president respectively.”
It was only on 26 November that federal cabinet gave the approval for extending army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure for an additional three more years and the revised order was produced before the Supreme Court
Now the SC will be making a fine judgement on November 28, the last day of Bajwa’s tenure which may be now remembered for the flawed process of extension more than anything else.
Thus what was apparently a bureaucratic blunder may haunt the Pakistan Army for years and government’s in Pakistan who have been generally amenable to extending tenures of the all powerful Army Chiefs may be wary of repeating the same in the future.
The list of military chiefs who had extended tenure in Pakistan is long fromm Pervez Musharraf to Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Interestingly except for the last named and now General Bajwa other Chiefs cases were of self extension where a sitting chief sought an extended tenure during the terms of martial law or quasi military rule.
While General Kayani was granted extension by a civil government no doubt under duress, Bajwa’s case may be that of survival for the Imran Khan government which is politically weak and requires extensive props by the political wing of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Meanwhile conspiracy theories are rampant in Pakistan ascribing the current resistance to the Army Chief’s extension to a clique of general’s who were sidelined for promotion due to grant of a three year extension.
Given the pyramidical hierarchy of the military these concerns may not be out of place, but did they have the political and judicial muscle to create such a situation remains to be seen?