In a first, Pakistan’s Supreme Court Tuesday suspended the notification granting a three-year term extension to Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. This is, however, just a temporary order as the court will hear the case again on Wednesday.
The move came just ahead of Bajwa’s retirement on November 29. Earlier in August, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved an extension in the tenure of General Bajwa for another three years.
“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure,” the brief notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office had said.
Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the Army chief. After suspending the government’s notification, the court adjourned hearing until Wednesday. The court also issues notices to the defence ministry, the federal government and Gen Bajwa, The Dawn reported.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor contested the observations by the chief justice, saying that the extension was announced after the approval of the President. However, the chief justice suspended the extension notification and fixed the next hearing for further proceedings. He also observed that when the matter was discussed in the Cabinet, only 11 out of 25 members approved the extension.
“Does the cabinet not want to give members the time to think? The 14 members of the cabinet still have not said ‘yes’ to army chief’s extension,” the top judge noted, The Dawn added.
The petition against the extension was filed by a person named Raiz Rahi, who later filed an application to withdraw it. But Khosa rejected the withdrawal bid and took up the petition as public interest litigation under Article 184.
Bajwa will be forced to step down Thursday if the court overturns the government’s extension order.
(With PTI inputs)
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