Supreme Court grants six months conditional extension to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Finally an impending Constitutional crises over the re-appointment/extension of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was warded off at least for a time being after the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday granted a conditional extension to the Army Chief’s tenure from November 28 for next six months.

The three-member Apex Court’s bench comprising the Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued the short order upholding the federal government’s decision of extending the tenure of the incumbent Army Chief under Article 243 B of the Constitution but with a condition that a legislation must be made within six months over the matter.

The short order was announced after the Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted an amended summary before the Court, and also assured the Supreme Court that it would make amendments through the Parliament with regard to the Army Chief’s appointment and extension within six months.

The Court made it clear that there was no space in the law for the extension but it has exercised judicial restraint, and granted a six-month conditional extension to the incumbent COAS’s tenure.

Earlier in the morning, the bench again raised objections over a fresh government’s summary regarding the COAS’s tenure extension, and asked the attorney general to remove the mentioning of the Supreme Court & duration of the Army Chief’s extended tenure from the summary, and specify the Army Chief’s salary and incentives.

Besides, as the Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had observed that there was an ambiguity in the Army Act, the government also submitted an undertaking that the Parliament would legislate on the matter within six months.

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The issue of General Bajwa’s tenure extension was caught in the limelight after in response to a petition filed by Riaz Hanif Rahi, the Supreme Court on November 26 suspended the notification issued by the government granting a three-year extension to the tenure of the COAS, who is set to retire today’s midnight.

During the course of hearings, it was observed that due process of law and legal modes weren’t followed by the government which demonstrated extreme negligence in the whole process. It was also revealed that no such law existed with regard to the extension of the Army Chief in the Country.

Therefore today, the federal government via a written undertaking assured the Apex Court of making amendments in the Army Act in next six months to give a legal cover to the COAS’s reappointment and extension.