In Pakistan, extending the period of service as chief of army staff is very normal. If we look back in history, six chiefs of army staff, except General Raheel Sharif, either extended their service period or either the government extended their term. So considering it a norm now won’t be wrong. Unlike other chiefs whom extensions didn’t create much controversy, the extension of the service period of general Bajwa is under debate.
Controversy overextension of General Bajwa
General Bajwa’s service was about to end by 28th November. Still, it couldn’t happen because the government announced to grant him another three years as chief of army staff. However, this decision was challenged by the supreme court and is now a debate for everyone.
Usually, the extension of the service period is either done by the chiefs or government of that time extend their period. This time in the case of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff, the government decided to extend his service for another three years when his term was about to end.
Ever since the 1st notification regarding the extension was passed dated back to 19th august, The matter has raised many questions.
The supreme court didn’t accept the government’s decision; instead, they pointed out many flaws and asked many questions. However, the supreme court granted general Bajwa only six months for now instead of 3 years. The six months are given to the government, too, so that the government sorts out the matter through proper legislation. During this time, the parliament should clearly define the reasons behind the extension of the service period and all the terms and conditions.
This case is challenged in the supreme court
The supreme court verdict is being considered as historical
The members of supreme court Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the case. Farogh Naseem represented the army chief, while the arguments on behalf of the government were presented by Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor Khan.
The attorney general said that the president on the advice of the prime minister passed a notification that General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been appointed as Chief Of Army Staff under article 243 and 245 of the constitution with effect from 28.11.2019
At the end of the 1st hearing, the chief justice said the court would consider three things: the law, the procedure involved, and the reasons behind granting an extension to the army chief.
Put your house in order
The supreme court proved itself independent and active by challenging the extension of the chief of army staff general Bajwa.
The matter of army chief’s reappointment or extension had been challenged before the court. The government kept on changing their stance sometimes as “referring to it as reappointment, or extension of tenure.”
The supreme court asked many questions related to this, upon which attorney general said this is how it’s happening from the start.
The court order also noted that though according to the article 243 the president has the authority to appoint the army chief, there is no duration specified in the article and that is also another debate which can only be cleared through the right legislation
General Bajwa’s retirement is also being discussed, and obviously, it will be considered while deciding on the extension
The court asked the government to submit an undertaking that the government will pass the legislation within six months and an amended notification. The amended notification should not mention the supreme court, army chief’s salary, and incentives, also the duration of army chief’s tenure
Also, The chief justice told Farogh Naseem, representative of General Bajwa, that the government should submit a written notice that, within six months, it will provide the legislation. Still, if the government fails to present the proper legislation, then the appointment of general Bajwa will become illegal.
The chief justice didn’t overlook the errors and passed the remark to the attorney general that ‘put your house in order.’
Why government extended general Bajwa’s service?
This all has stirred up the controversy. Almost everyone, especially the opposition parties, has started questioning the military role in Pakistan for the last one and a half years. Secondly, people who were inspired by the military because of professionalism and discipline now criticize them because of not being impartial. The days when chances of the army taking up the country are long gone because of the army’s role in politics. Now it is said that the media is being restricted and none other than the military agencies are arresting rights activists
Even the Pakistani media is maintaining silence in this regard. Not questioning the government that why do present political party wants to extend the service period of General Bajwa. But people all over social media are asking many questions regarding this matter.
Embarrassing for the Army
This issue is trending on social media and is under debate everywhere which is, of course, embarrassing for the respected army
On the other hand, Defence Analyst Lt Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib in a news show said that General Qamar Javed Bajwa was not much interested in the extension of his service, but the government convinced him. He further noted that general Bajwa has helped the government in economic affairs and foreign policy and also arranged the loans from the middle east. The government looks at the level of comfort with the person. That’s why the government wants him to stay. But of course, this controversy is embarrassing for the army too.
Let’s see whether all the views be it in favor of the extension or not, are convincing to the supreme court and general public, and the government clears the matter through proper legislation. It is also important now to resolve the issue and make necessary amendments in the constitution regarding the Pakistan army chief. A clear guideline should be made now for the future.
Because of the controversy, two things are clear now
- Firstly, despite not being able to get three years extension, the supreme court granted six months of the period, which is enough for the government to set a committee. After the amendments, the duration of the chief army would be easy to extend.
- Secondly, the chief’s army tenure, extension, and other conditions will be stated legally.