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Bajwa Extension: Exposing Pakistan’s Multiple Internal Fault lines

Published Nov 29, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

Thus, while Prime Minister Imran Khan and his ministers have tom tomed the rebuke by the Supreme Court as an achievement by gaining a six months leeway, the many chinks in the Pakistan’s systemic have been thoroughly exposed.

The enigma over extension to Pakistan’s Army Chief is over at least for the time being in fact may have been extended for another six months, for that is the period approved by the Supreme Court on 28 November the day General Asim Javed Bajwa was to retire from service.

Now the Supreme Court of Pakistan has given the government six months to resolve the three key issues regulations, rules, procedures and operational necessity for the exceptional step in giving the Army Chief Bajwa a three-year leeway in term of office.

Underlying the last-minute crisis are the many fault lines that have been exposed in the Pakistan systemic which show that not all – both within the Pakistan Army and the Government were happy with the extension and may have been largely driven by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal desire for the same.

Having been “selected,” by the Army as the Pakistan opposition calls Mr Khan, he would be more than obliged to General Bajwa for pitching him to the life time ambition of being the Prime Minister of the country.

General Bajwa may have bailed out the government in the ongoing Azadi March imbroglio as well while he has taken exceptional interest in the economy far beyond the charter.

So, for Khan, Bajwa is a saviour in many ways and a three-year term in office would ensure some peaceful nights for the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) government.

However the prime minister did not realise that there were many including those within the cabinet who were not happy with the extension apart from what the grapevine in Pakistan has it that some generals in the Army who lost out on their upward mobility to the highest rank also unwilling to accept the Bajwa extension which came in August.

The reasons for such a conclusion are many and are summarised as given below-

The prime minister issued a notification in August for extension of tenure of the Army Chief whereas the same was to be issued by the President. Apparently, officials in the Prime Minister’s office and the Defence Ministry did not feel it appropriate to apprise Mr Khan.

Secondly the notification was issued by the President in August but the same was surprisingly denied by him publicly in September.

A formal approval of the cabinet was taken but all members were not present at the meeting and thus the consensus was lacking.

Once the Supreme Court observed infirmities it is apparent that the government fumbled again by amending the rules in a hurry without having examined that the laws on which the notification was based did not apply to the Army Chief.

Incompetence is more than evident but underlying the same the possibility of deliberate muddling by civil and military bureaucracy and a conspiracy cannot be ruled out.

To the government’s and General Bajwa’s relief a six months extension has been given by the grace of the Court.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan claimed that this was not an adverse verdict for the government. “This is not a matter of adversity for the government,” said AG Khan

Supreme court had noted that Article 243 states that the appointment of an army chief by the president “is subject to law” but since there exists no law for the appointment, “they have asked us to make a law mentioning the tenure and the methodology of his appointment,” explained the attorney general as per media reports.

Federal Minster for Railways the controversial Sheikh Rashid Ahmed accepted that the government had bungled procedure for extension of the Army Chief.  “The army chief should not be blamed, we did not come up with the documents that were required,” he said.

Whatever be the spin to the Supreme Court verdict by the government, a parliamentary notification will also be necessary, how the political opposition play their cards remains to be seen?

Thus, while Prime Minister Imran Khan and his ministers have tom tomed the rebuke by the Supreme Court as an achievement by gaining a six months leeway, the many chinks in the Pakistan’s systemic have been thoroughly exposed.

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